You are on page 1of 40

GSA Office of Citizen Services and Communications

Intergovernmental Solutions Newsletter

Transparency and
Open Government
Spring 2009

Transparency in Government . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1
Transparency in Government
Memorandum for the Heads of Executive By Darlene Meskell
Departments and Agencies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Director, Intergovernmental Solutions Reveals Details GSA Office of Citizen Services and Communications
of the Stimulus Spending . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5

Democratization of Data
ewly elected President Barack Obama has taken bold steps to

Unfettered Access to Data
Can Transform Government? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 inaugurate an era of government openness and transparency. In
Technology as a Game-Changer . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 one of his first official acts, the President issued a
Information as a Public Good . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9 Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government, affirming
Citizen Views On Transparency . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11 his commitment to achieving an “unprecedented level of openness in
government.” Making known his belief that transparency is a
Practices at Work in Government fundamental responsibility of a democratic government, he called for the
Texas Websites Improve Accountability . . . . . .13 creation of an Open Government Directive that would require agencies
Georgia’s Commitment to Customer to reveal their inner workings and make their data public.
Service and Good Government . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15
Transparency 2.0 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16 A commitment to government accountability is at the heart of this
Measuring E-Government 2.0 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17 message. By allowing citizens to “see through” its workings and
E-discovery, Transparency investigate whether or not their leaders and organizations have met
and Culture Change . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19 their expectations, the government brings the public into its inner circles
AGA Opens the Doors of Government and empowers citizens to contribute to decision-making. As citizens
to the Citizens . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21 gain knowledge and understanding, their trust in government begins to
Shedding Light on Corruption grow.
India: Revolutionizing Land Records . . . . . . . . .23 Providing government data to citizens in a meaningful way will require a
Fighting Corruption, While Building culture change, away from one where data are stored away for internal
Energy Security . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26 purposes to one that looks broadly at how data can be made accessible
Through a Glass, Darkly. What do we for re-use by the public. The federal website Reveals
mean by transparency in government? . . . . . . .28
Details of the Stimulus Spending on the $787 billion American
Transparency in Government Begins Outside .29
Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It will put the data out in useable form
The Collaborative Government so that people can slice, dice and mash it up to gain meaningful
Beyond Transparency in Government . . . . . . . . .31
information about how government is working.
Get Ready for Wiki-Government . . . . . . . . . . . . .33 These data feeds create opportunities to look at government programs
Building the Digital Public Square . . . . . . . . . . .35 in new ways that could never have been imagined by the data collectors.
Open Government Serves Citizens . . . . . . . . . .37 The District of Columbia’s Apps for Democracy Contest drew upon the
public’s imagination to make D.C. data more useful to constituents.
Under the leadership of then-CTO Vivek Kundra, the District sponsored
a contest seeking creative applications that use D.C. government data.
The results were astonishing. The 47 entries submitted to Apps for
Democracy within only 30 days “produced more savings for the D.C.
government than any other initiative,” according to Kundra, who has
since been named federal CIO.
Continued on next page...
The Intergovernmental Solutions Newsletter is produced twice a year by the Intergovernmental
Solutions Division, GSA Office of Citizens Services and Communications; Lisa Nelson, Editor.
Send comments and suggestions to:
The president’s January 21, 2009, memo on
transparency and open government viewed
as a word cloud.

Making government data available is government’s need to look beyond local government is to provide
just the beginning of the process. To transparency and accountability when citizens with timely, easy to
reach the president’s goal, agencies delivering data to increase worker understand information on how their
must solicit public feedback to productivity and citizen engagement. how their taxpayer dollars are being
identify information of greatest use to Technology as a Game Changer spent. Texas Websites Improve
the public, expanding citizen looks at the transformational Accountability describes the state’s
participation in public policy possibilities of inviting greater three initiatives aimed at improving
decision-making. It will bring a new participation and collaboration from government accounting, spending and
wave of remarkable technological citizens. Information as a Public transparency. The State of Georgia’s
applications that will have Good presents examples of Web- gateway to information and key
government and citizens working based geospatial technologies that documents about how the state
together in partnership. The resulting are leveraging government data as a spends tax dollars and other revenues
network within which citizens and public good. The results of a survey is outlined in Georgia's
their government can work together to conducted by Rutgers University on Commitment to Customer Service
solve problems, will change the way the different dimensions regarding and Good Government.
citizens and governments interact. what citizens are looking for in the
New Zealand is moving strategically
way of transparency are detailed in
to use online tools to engage citizens
Democratization of Data Citizens’ Views on Transparency.
and learn their views on matters
Information technology has made important to them. Online
data available to everyone. This
Practices at Work in Government communities are viewed as partners
democratization of data unveils the Web 2.0 practices are changing public working to improve the quality of
internal workings of government and services now. Governments are government in Transparency 2.0.
sets in motion the wheels of providing citizens with extraordinary Recognizing the need for a new
transformation. Unfettered Access tools that inform them and others approach in the maintenance of
to Data that Can Transform with similar interests. One of the federal records, E-discovery,
Government examines the fastest growing trends in state and
Continued on next page...

Transparency and Culture Openness and transparency are government using collaborative
Change lays out a framework for necessary for effective government technologies.
changes that will enhance access to oversight and accountability. The idea
Even today, Open Government
public documents. Current that transparency does not guarantee
Serves Citizens, as Maryantonett
methodology for measuring accountability is explored in Through
Flumian, the founding head of Service
eGovernment progress is nearing the a Glass, Darkly: What do we mean
Canada illustrates, offering numerous
end of its usefulness. Measuring E- by transparency in government?
examples of transparent government
Government 2.0 presents a new The need for government to tap into
from the public and private sectors in
benchmarking approach for the expertise of others and withstand
the U.S. and around the world.
measuring e-government’s return on public scrutiny is discussed in
Following her lead, this newsletter
investment. The Association of Transparency in Government
offers more of the many stories of
Government Accountants establishes Begins Outside. As U.S. Supreme
how cooperation and innovative
a baseline for understanding public Court Justice Louis Brandeis so aptly
technology are being used to confront
attitudes with regard to transparency put it “sunlight is the best
the huge changes required to create
and accountability in AGA Opens disinfectant.”
an open and participative
the Doors of Government to
government. The range of subjects is
Citizens. Collaborative Government just the tip of the iceberg, and shows
The issues of culture and policy need how better communications—on all
Shedding Light on Corruption to be addressed before major levels—must be a key priority for
Increasing transparency and citizen progress can be made toward a truly government in the future.
participation goes a long way toward collaborative government. President Obama’s January 21 open
undermining the problem of Transparency in Government government memoradum calls for
corruption. Transparency in the oil, speaks to theses challenges and the transparency, participation and
gas and mining industry has been need to engage citizens to solve collaboration in government. These
gaining traction over the last decade. today’s complex problems. Get three concepts have been underlying
Fighting Corruption while Ready for Wiki-Government looks American democracy since the start,
Building Energy Security looks at at the millennial generation’s use of but never have they been so central to
the paradox of resource-rich countries social networks. This generation will a presidential vision. With advanced
that are impoverished because of change the shape of America’s technologies and creative use of the
corruption and conflict. In India, land governing processes to one where Internet, a commitment to open
records are vital documents for both some decisions will be made by government will go a long way toward
farmers and the government. They are crowds. giving the public control of the levers
used to prove ownership and are of power, and encouraging
Government in ancient Athens was
required for numerous administrative widespread participation in the civic
conducted in the public square.
functions. India: Revolutionary life of the nation. ■
People met there to debate civic
Land Records reveals the incredible
issues and drive policy decisions.
impact computerization of land
Building the Digital Public Darlene Meskell is the Director,
records has had on the livelihood of
Square describes how the District of Intergovernmental Solutions, GSA. For
small farmers. additional information contact
Columbia is re-creating the public
square to bring people closer to their

Memorandum for the Heads of
Executive Departments and Agencies
SUBJECT: Transparency and Open Government

y Administration is society, and public officials benefit

M committed to creating an
unprecedented level of
openness in Government. We will
from having access to that dispersed
knowledge. Executive departments
and agencies should offer Americans
work together to ensure the public increased opportunities to
trust and establish a system of participate in policymaking and to
transparency, public participation, provide their Government with the
and collaboration. Openness will benefits of their collective expertise
strengthen our democracy and and information. Executive
promote efficiency and effectiveness departments and agencies should
in Government. also solicit public input on how we
can increase and improve
Government should be transparent.
opportunities for public participation
Transparency promotes
in Government.
accountability and provides
information for citizens about what Government should be collaborative.
their Government is doing. Collaboration actively engages
Information maintained by the Americans in the work of their
Federal Government is a national Government. Executive departments
asset. My Administration will take and agencies should use innovative
appropriate action, consistent with tools, methods, and systems to for an Open Government Directive, to
be issued by the Director of OMB,
Information maintained by the Federal that instructs executive departments
and agencies to take specific actions
Government is a national asset. implementing the principles set forth
in this memorandum. The
law and policy, to disclose cooperate among themselves, across independent agencies should comply
information rapidly in forms that the all levels of Government, and with with the Open Government Directive.
public can readily find and use. nonprofit organizations, businesses,
Executive departments and agencies and individuals in the private sector. This memorandum is not intended to,
should harness new technologies to Executive departments and agencies and does not, create any right or
put information about their should solicit public feedback to benefit, substantive or procedural,
operations and decisions online and assess and improve their level of enforceable at law or in equity by a
readily available to the public. collaboration and to identify new party against the United States, its
Executive departments and agencies opportunities for cooperation. departments, agencies, or entities, its
should also solicit public feedback to officers, employees, or agents, or any
I direct the Chief Technology Officer, other person.
identify information of greatest use
in coordination with the Director of
to the public. This memorandum shall be published
the Office of Management and
Government should be participatory. Budget (OMB) and the Administrator in the Federal Register. ■
Public engagement enhances the of General Services, to coordinate
Government’s effectiveness and the development by appropriate
improves the quality of its decisions. executive departments and agencies, BARACK OBAMA
Knowledge is widely dispersed in within 120 days, of recommendations

4 Reveals Details States were also expected to create
their own Recovery Act pages providing
data and information from, and links to,
of the Stimulus Spending every participating state agency,
locality and municipality in the state.
The states’ certifications and their
By John R. Murphy recovery pages are linked to a state
Deputy Program Manager
section of map
shows’s links to state
sites at the beginning of April 2009. is the government generate information about the flow of

R website created by the American

Recovery and Reinvestment Act
(Recovery Act) to track $787 billion in
the stimulus funds.
The website will allow users to track
where the money is going, search by
Additional information will be posted
on and linked to as the
multi-year spending program is
implemented. Over time, it will
federal funds Congress appropriated to demonstrate the impact of
state or Congressional district, look up
stimulate the economy. It is introduced transparency in government as citizens
names of Federal contractors or other
on the home page: use it increasingly to build their own
recipients of Federal dollars, and send
The Recovery Act “provides for in comments, thoughts, ideas, understanding of how their taxpayer
unprecedented levels of transparency questions, and responses to anything dollars are being spent.
and accountability so that you will be on the site. is overseen by the
able to know how, when, and where your Recovery Accountability and also features different
tax dollars are being spent. … This Transparency Board, which reports to
federal programs, updated information
website,, will be the main the Vice President and is responsible
about news related to the stimulus
vehicle to provide each and every citizen for ensuring that federal agencies are
program, and links to related web
with the ability to monitor the progress transparent and accountable in
pages.The screen shot is an early
of the recovery.” reporting and spending Recovery Act
version of the home page.
All federal agencies will post funds.The Board is composed of 11
For the most part, Recovery Act funds inspectors general for federal agencies,
information to about the
are funneled through state and local led by Earl Devaney of the Department
sources, recipients and use of
governments, which manage citizen- of the Interior.The website is managed
expenditures under the Recovery Act,
facing programs. State governors were by the U.S. General Services
to make it easy for citizens to follow
given 45 days after the law was signed Administration. ■
and understand the impact of the
to claim the funds allocated for their
stimulus legislation. Live data feeds to
states by certifying that they would
the site will provide raw data that can For further information about the website
“request and use” the funds to create
be re-used in graphic presentations or and the distribution of Recovery Act funds,
jobs and promote economic growth. go to
in combination with other data to

Democratization of Data

Unfettered Access to
Data CanTransform Government
By W. David Stephenson
Stephenson Strategies

hen SEC Chairman

W Christopher Cox announced

in December that,
beginning on a phased-in basis this
year, corporate reports to the SEC
must be filed with XBRL tags so the
data would be interactive, he held up
a hand-typed SEC report. It was the
kind was common during my
childhood many years ago, and, Cox
said, “When it was published, this
was a useful report.”
Back then, gathering and
disseminating data was a long and
labor-intensive process, so perhaps it
was justifiable that data only had to
be reported infrequently and only a
select few agency leaders had access transparency, however, is to ignore • Made available externally in forms
to it. Unavoidable delays in some of their more creative uses. that enable civic groups,
distributing data made it better for Instead, we need to think of entrepreneurs and individuals to
recording past mistakes than guiding “democratizing data,” creating a become “co-creators” with
daily decisions. seamless, continuous data loop in government, integrating into
Today, it is technologically possible to which data is: applications, services, and even
have a continuous cycle of data • Collected in data bases and businesses can use to improve civic
in/data out. There is no longer warehouses life and individuals’ lives.
justification for withholding data Whether it’s public companies that
(unless there are overriding security • Structured (using “tags” such as
XML and KML) so that it can easily now must meet the new SEC
and privacy issues) from anyone who regulations or agencies that must
legitimately needs it. Today, a “useful” be queried and seamlessly shared
comply with Coburn-Obama, the major
report is a real-time report. between various systems
cost involved is cleaning up and
To date, most have focused on access • Automatically syndicated so that it structuring the data by adding on the
to this data for transparency (for is available when and where it is “tags.” Once tagged, data can be used
example, the Coburn-Obama Federal needed, and, ideally, on a real-time and shared anywhere and the time and
Funding Accountability and basis money spent on adding new uses is
Transparency Act of 2006), so that the • Made available to all workers who negligible.
public, watchdog groups and the need it, in forms they can use to That portends an exciting
media can scrutinize it. That is manage their work and collaborate transformation for government
important particularly in light of the with others workers. Many will get access to real-
controversy about how the first round time, location-based information that
of money in the financial bailout was • Made available externally so that
watchdog groups can analyze it, as a can really help them do their jobs
(or wasn’t!) spent. better, especially if they also have
means to restore public confidence
To look at data feeds just for in government’s integrity. access to data visualization tools (the
Continued on next page...

private sector Many Eyes and Swivel assigned a different color rectangle. In less than a month, 47 usable
sites are good examples) that will help City blocks where multiple indicators applications were created, ranging
them interpret, make sense of, and are present (and which are at higher from do-it-yourself walking historical
share the data. risk of serious socio-economic tours using an iPhone to a “We the
problems) are immediately obvious to People” transparency & accountability
The District of Columbia used such an
users. Because these seven sets of wiki to help the public track D.C.
approach with a high-priority program
data are typically created by different spending. The crowdsourcing
to deliver more than 6,000 PCs to
agencies, it is highly unlikely that they phenomenon offers access to data and
public school classrooms. The team
were shared in the past. Agencies that free rein to a wide range of people with
charged with executing the project had
might have previously treated differing interests and expertise.
access to the District’s GIS systems,
symptoms of decay in isolation can BTW: I wonder which agency will be
and created custom Google Maps
now see which blocks must be the first to sponsor an internal “Apps
allowing them to deliver and install all
addressed first and work together, for Democracy” contest that allows its
of the PCs in only 7 weeks. An earlier
reducing the cost and increasing their employees, no matter whether they’re
plan, without the data-sharing tools,
effectiveness. in IT or not, to design a widget or other
had estimated the project would take a
application that would help their co-
year. Finally, democratizing data can
facilitate an uncharted area of
Another example of how real-time
government innovation, in which the Why stop with accountability if the
access to actionable data can
public takes structured data feeds and same mechanism that makes possible
transform government was pointed out
creates new computer applications automatic delivery of structured data
by the Neighborhood Knowledge LA
that provide real service to the public. can also help government workers be
(NKLA) project, a collaboration
The District of Columbia was again more productive and even involve
between UCLA and neighborhood
the pioneer in this regard, with its citizens in designing innovative
groups. They used the Center for
“Apps for Democracy” contest in 2008. applications to supplement traditional
Neighborhood Technology’s
Design firms and individuals were governmental services. I’d call that
“Neighborhood Early Warning
invited to use one or more of the more Transparency Plus. ■
System,” which looks at seven
than 260 different data feeds in the
indicators of neighborhood decline,
“Citywide Data Warehouse” to drive W. David Stephenson is an e-gov and Web
such as code violations and/or
applications that would increase 2.0 consultant and theorist. He is the lead
property taxes in arrears. NKLA’s site
transparency or enable public use of author of the forthcoming Democratizing
plots the information on city maps, Data.
the data.
with each of the seven factors

Technology as a Game-Changer proposed a “contracts and influence

database” that publicizes how much
money federal contractors receive,
how much they spend on lobbying,
By Darrell M. West
Vice President and Director of Governance Studies and how effectively they fulfill
Brookings Institution government contracts. Improving
transparency through online
information will be a great boon to
researchers, reporters, and ordinary
he goal of electronic transforms the culture, organization,

citizens, and make it easier to follow
government is not just to and functioning of government. the government money trail.
substitute one delivery system During the campaign, candidate
for another. If people go online and Barack Obama pledged to put Digital technology represents a way
print out a report instead of calling up detailed public sector information for government to become more
the Food and Drug Administration, online and make it searchable. He transparent and pro-active in dealing
that is not a major system stated that he wanted to create “a with citizens and businesses. Many
transformation. It doesn’t change how centralized Internet database of government agencies today are
government functions or how officials lobbying reports, ethics records and reactive in nature. They wait for
think about their mission. campaign finance filings in a people to request information or
searchable, sortable and services. However, the Internet
Rather, it is important to think of allows government agencies to
downloadable format.” In addition, he
technology as a “game-changer” that customize information and push
Continued on next page...

material out to people. On some Digital tools offer the potential to domestic agenda (health care
government websites, you can involve more people in decision- reform).
register as having interests in making. Before President Obama
There are 13 million email addresses
particular subjects. Let’s say you are a signs legislation, he plans to wait five
in the Obama campaign database.
soybean farmer in Iowa and have days to allow for public comments.
After the election, the campaign sent
registered that interest with the U.S. People will be able to go to a website
a survey to each of these, asking for
Department of Agriculture website. and say,”Yes, you should sign this
zip code, phone number, issue
When new research comes out of bill” or”No, you shouldn’t, and these
interests (such as gay rights,
Iowa State University on soybeans, or are the reasons why you shouldn’t.” In
disability, health care, or education),
market conditions change, the same vein, the Environmental
and willingness to contact public
government agencies can email Protection Agency has been using e-
officials. It is obvious what Obama is
reports to those people and say here rulemaking on proposed federal
going to do with this information.
is something you should know about. regulations to broaden citizen
When tough votes come before
It brings a different mentality to participation in government. The
Congress, he is going to ask
government and puts agencies in the Brookings Press is publishing a book
supporters to contact legislators in
mold of helping people where they entitled Wiki-Government by Beth
same way President Reagan did in
want to be helped. You can envision Noveck formerly a professor at New
1981 with letters and phone calls
similar applications in health care, York Law School, and now in the
when he wanted to pass his landmark

It is important to think of technology as a “game-changer”

that transforms the culture, organization, and functioning
of government.
tax cut legislation. Electronic
education, climate change, and Office of Science and Technology
technology will allow Obama to
variety of other areas. If someone Policy at the White House. It is terrific
harness his grass roots movement to
attends a public school in Cleveland, research on how governments can
further his political objectives.
Ohio, local education officials can harness the power of collective
notify parents of important knowledge in decision-making. She When you add all these things
developments affecting that school. proposes that agencies such as the together, Obama has the potential to
Hospitals can target people Patent and Trademark Office set up use technology to improve
interested in staying up-to-date on wikis in which people can comment government transparency and
diabetes treatments by sending them on proposed patents and help reinvigorate democracy. His most
material on new research in the area. authorities decide what truly is new. important challenge, though, will be
public and media cynicism. Public
Information technology provides The digital revolution gives political
trust in government is at an all-time
feedback on how agencies are doing. leaders a way to bring outside
low. When people are cynical, they
I visited China a couple of years ago pressure to bear on Congress and
don’t believe anyone really is going to
as part of a technology delegation. thereby help break the partisan
make a difference. But if Obama can
Going through passport control when gridlock that has plagued our national
maintain the sense of hope, he will
we landed at the Beijing Airport, I government for years. There has been
become our first truly digital
noticed an electronic device that inaction on leading issues such as
president. ■
asked me to rate the performance of health care, Social Security, climate
the passport officer on a 1 to 4 scale. change, and immigration. President
This represented an innovative Obama has substantial Democratic Darrell M. West is Vice President and
example of introducing transparency majorities in the House and Senate, Director of Governance Studies at the
Brookings Institution. He is the author of
and accountability into the system. If but he should remember that Digital Government: Technology and
there is a spike upward in complaints Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Public Sector Service and previously was
about a particular official or specific Clinton had the same thing early in the Director of the Taubman Center for
agency, administrators know there is each of their administrations. Neither Public Policy at Brown University. For
a problem and this feedback provides of those Democratic presidents was additional information contact
an opportunity to address inadequate able to get much passed and Clinton
performance. was not able to get Congress to take a
single vote on the centerpiece of his

Information as a Public Good
By Sean Gorman, PhD
CEO and Founder

Introduction asking agencies to share with citizens with companies and non-profits
can be viewed as a public good. If the taking open government data and
The new administration has made EPA makes information on the creating sophisticated technology and
transparent and open government a location of toxic dumping available, services around them. A stellar
top priority. As part of this mission, and I use that data to inform my example of this is the phenomenal
agencies are encouraged to “harness neighborhood of hazards, I have not growth of Web-based geospatial
new technologies to put information inhibited anyone else from using the technologies – often called the
about their operations and decisions data for other purposes. There is a GeoWeb. Google Earth uses data
online and readily available to the societal benefit to making information from NASA, NOAA, U.S. Navy,
public.” Further, agencies are asked open and available to the public. National Geo-spatial-Intelligence
to view information as a “national Agency and other government
asset” to be shared with the citizens. This concept is not new, but if we
agencies to create the virtual
I would contend that the information connect the idea to technology there
panoramas of our planet.

The government can make information available as reports,

maps and charts, but it can also make it available as data.
President Obama is asking is the opportunity to create even EveryBlock
government to share with citizens is a greater benefits beyond transparency.
Another innovative example is
public good. If we view information The government can make
Everyblock, a web application that
as a public good then there is the information available as reports,
combines metropolitan data like
opportunity to not only create maps and charts, but it can also make
crime, road construction, building
transparency but also save it available as data. Specifically,
permits, and sanitation violations
government resources and money government can provide the raw
statistics and makes information
while stimulating the economy. First source data that is the foundation for
easily accessible to the public for
we need to clearly define the meaning reports and statistics. The first
consumption. The image below shows
of 'public good.' benefit of this approach is that it
the results for recent crimes in the
provides greater transparency of
Federal Triangle neighborhood of
Information as a Public Good government. Any individual or group
Washington D.C.
would be able to check the validity of
In economics the concept of a “public statistics and conclusions drawn from In both instances open public data is
good” describes a situation in which information produced by the being made available to the public in
the consumption of a good or service government. This provides another an attractive and consumable form.
by one individual does not reduce avenue for citizens to participate and Not only do these applications make
availability of the good or service for collaborate with government. the data more transparent, they have
others; therefore no one can be also fueled innovation and business
excluded from using it. A classic The GeoWeb as a Use Case creation.
example of a public good is a
lighthouse. All ships benefit from the From a technology perspective, open
data has the positive externality of
Apps for Democracy
lighthouse, and if more ships benefit
from the lighthouse that does not creating opportunities for citizens and Vivek Kundra, the former D.C. CTO
adversely affect the community of “the market” to innovate with the has leveraged the combination of
ships. As opposed to an apple which data. If the government can provide open government data with the
is a finite resource. If I take a bite of well-organized data in common technology community to great
the apple, there is less of the apple for formats, then technology and services success. He made D.C. government
you. From this perspective, the can be built on top of the data. There data open to the public in common
information President Obama is has been enormous success already formats then ran a contest, “Apps for
Continued on next page...

Democracy,” for developers to create contributors and 800 million data receiving higher quality data in return,
innovative applications with the data. points. When OpenStreetMap came and arguably the data has driven
This contest resulted in the to the United States, the Census production of technology applications
development and submission of 47 Bureau’s TIGER line street data were that the government would have
applications. The D.C. CTO’s office already available in the public domain. contracted for. Further, the
estimated that the cost of having the This provided a huge jump-start for government has created an economic
D.C. government develop these apps OpenStreetMap and the team quickly stimulus by providing data around
would have exceeded $2 million and began updating and correcting errors which business can be built. Of
required 1-2 years of effort between in the data. special significance is the innovation-
contracting, procurement and based economic stimulus for small
Now there is a resource with updated
development. The contest cost a total and medium sized businesses, which
and more accurate TIGER data
of $50,000 and was delivered in 30 are the backbone of America’s job
available for the public. This cost
days. Not only did Kundra’s efforts creation engine. Most importantly,
Census no additional resources and
enable more transparency around these projects and the approaches
no additional budget. In addition, the
D.C. Government, they also saved the outlined serve the purpose of making
data made available by
city a substantial amount of money. government more transparent and
OpenStreetMap has provided the
inviting greater participation and
foundation for several technology
OpenStreetMap collaboration. Each of these examples
start-ups creating new jobs and
built a community around the data
The benefits to government of making innovation in the marketplace.
that is passionate about both its
data public do not stop with saving accuracy and application. We have a
money. In the United Kingdom, much Conclusion collective opportunity to promote
of the data produced by the change that will revitalize the
All four examples; Google Earth,
government is sold for a fee. This is economy and society, and this is one
EveryBlock, Apps for Democracy and
especially true in the case of path that will get us closer to those
OpenStreetMap, demonstrate the
geospatial data, where the Ordinance lofty goals. ■
potential of leveraging government
Survey charges large sums of money
data as a public good. The public has
for a variety of geospatial data. This
greatly benefited from the Sean Gorman founded FortiusOne in 2005
led to the creation of a non-profit
technologies built around the data, to bring advanced geospatial technologies
project called OpenStreetMaps, to market. For further information, contact
and the use of the data has not
where volunteers use consumer GPS,
removed value from the government.
units and Web software to map out 703.247.9280 or,
In fact the government has gained –
street infrastructure. The project has 703.622.4878.
saving money, saving resources,
gone global with more than 80,000

Citizen Views OnTransparency
By Suzanne J. Piotrowski and
Gregg Van Ryzin
Rutgers University - Newark

he proper balance between Research Method there are several dimensions to the

T governmental secrecy and open

government is at the forefront
of contemporary public debate.
The data for our analysis come from
an online survey conducted in March
2005 of participants in the
public’s demand for transparency,
including fiscal, safety, and
government concerns, and principled
Intuitively, it seems individuals differ openness. Age, political ideology,
in their level of demand for eTownPanel project, an opt-in e-mail confidence in government leaders,
governmental transparency. panel of approximately 6,044 active frequency of contacting government,
Governmental transparency is the participants (at the time of the study). and especially the perception that
degree to which there is access to The eTownPanel project is a there is currently not enough access
government-held information. Some university-affiliated, foundation- to government appear to drive the
feel strongly about the need to access funded online research resource public’s demand for transparency,
government information and to learn created to provide a general although determinants differ for each
more about what government is doing, population of volunteers to dimension. Some, although not all, of
whereas others are less interested. participate in surveys about local these factors also predict citizens’

Those who view government as already adequately open

demand less transparency, whereas those who see
government as closed seek more.
Moreover, people differ in terms of the community issues and government actual requests for government
kinds of government information they performance, in particular surveys information.
seek to access. Using data from a sponsored by local nonprofit
organizations, government agencies, Our analysis reveals some insights on
national online survey, we develop
and academic researchers. Volunteers the structure and possible
several indices to measure citizens’
are recruited from various online determinants of public demand for
demand for local governmental
postings and e-mail lists and are not a transparency at the local level. There
transparency and to identify its
random sample of the U.S. population. appear to be potentially different
Invitations were sent via e-mail to the dimensions to the public’s demand for
Two initial questions are addressed in entire panel, and a total of 1,819 governmental transparency,
this study: (a) How can we measure completed the questionnaire, for a dimensions related to public finances,
citizens’ desire or demand for panel response rate of 30percent. safety, the principle of open
governmental transparency, and government, and the notion of good or
specifically, are there different The survey asked a large number of honest government. In addition, our
dimensions to such a demand? and questions about transparency in analysis suggests several key
(b) What personal and contextual government, as well as questions determinants of these various forms
factors are correlated with variation about other attitudes and behaviors of public demand for transparency.
in the level of demand for that were hypothesized to be potential Perhaps the public’s perception of
governmental transparency? We focus correlates or determinants of the how much openness currently exists
on local government transparency demand for transparency. We in government emerges as a
because citizens have a more direct conducted an exploratory factor significant factor across the various
stake in local issues (like crime and analysis to reduce the transparency measures of demand for transparency.
land use) and because the data for items and to create scales. Those who view government as
our research, explained more fully already adequately open demand less
below, come from a survey research Findings transparency, whereas those who see
project focused on local government The data and analysis suggest that government as closed seek more.
affairs. People who are politically engaged
Continued on next page...

and who frequently contact Finally, a number of potential these issues to either confirm or
government also tend to demand predictors we expected to be related disprove the expected relationships.
more transparency. to the demand for transparency failed
This research begins to develop a way
to enter significantly into our models.
The trust-in-government literature of measuring dimensions of the
Although past literature identifies
has found that there is a relationship public’s demand for transparency, and
race as related to trust in government
between trust in government and the some of the determinants of these
and satisfaction with government
perception that democracy is dimensions. Because no previous
services, race was not related to
“working well.” In three of the five research has attempted to measure
attitudes toward transparency. Race
scales, confidence in local officials these concepts, this study should be
was, however, related to the behavior
had a statistically significant, seen as providing an exploratory,
of obtaining government documents.
negative relationship to demand for empirical foundation for future work

People who are politically engaged and who

frequently contact government also tend to demand
more transparency.
transparency. The more confidence Conclusions on the topic. The results presented
citizens have in their local officials, provide both predicted and surprising
the less they are interested in fiscal, Our questionnaire focused almost results. More thought and attention
principled, and good government exclusively on the municipal needs to be turned to this topic to
transparency. Senator John Cornyn of government level. This is appropriate better understand the link between
Texas stated that “open government because individuals have so much of demand for transparency and its
is fundamentally an American issue, their government contact at the local potential correlates. ■
not a Republican or Democrat issue.” level. Even with this is mind, it is
Using party affiliation as a proxy for possible that national-level issues
This is based on a research article titled
ideology, Republican Cornyn is half affect individuals’ demand for “Citizen Attitudes Toward Transparency in
right. Self-identified conservatives transparency of local-level Local Government” published in the in The
and liberals were both interested in documents, the most obvious of which American Review of Public
transparency, just different types of are national defense and homeland Administration (2007; volume 37 No.3
transparency. Although conservatives security. A question, or series of p306-323). Suzanne Piotrowski and Gregg
questions, ascertaining respondents’ Van Ryzin are both faculty members of the
questioned the need for transparency School of Public Affairs and Administration
more than liberals, they also were views on these topics could be
at Rutgers University-Newark. For
more concerned than liberals about included in future research. The additional information contact
accessing safety-related information. perceived high cost of governmental and
Self-identified liberals, on the other transparency and the desire for
hand, were more concerned with personal privacy are two possible
accessing government information on reasons why individuals may want
principle and for good governance less transparency. Future research
concerns. should include questions that address

Practices at Work in Government

Texas Websites Improve Accountability

By Susan Combs
State of Texas

n the Texas State Comptroller’s In 2007, the Texas Legislature asked contracts, individual purchasers can

I Office, we continuously pore over

budgets in keeping the books for
our agency and the State of Texas as a
the Comptroller’s office to create an
advisory council with other state
agencies to examine uniform financial
leverage the state of state’s bulk
buying power to receive lower prices.
Our office expects Texas to save at
whole — a large task, and one that accounting in state government.
least $28 million in phase one of Texas
should be open to scrutiny. By my
Today, Texas state agencies use many Smart Buy. The savings and cost-
fourth day as Comptroller, we
sets of books with sometimes avoidance represent more than
published all of our agency
conflicting accounting data. Any 8percent of state spending for certain
expenditures online, right down to the
given agency might use its own goods and services. Already, Texas
pencils. And thanks to our Where the
bookkeeping methods and codes for has identified these savings and cost
Money Goes website, our
tracking and classifying items, a avoidances:
expenditures and those of other state
recipe for duplication that can make
agencies are available and easily • Overnight/express mail — the state
accurate statewide bookkeeping an
searchable online. saved 34percent, or $3.8 million,
enormous challenge. With the Single
In these tough economic times, all Set of Books Initiative, our office will and awarded a significant portion
taxpayers — at the city, county, state work with agencies to present a report of this contract to a Texas-based
and federal levels — deserve to know to the Legislature on ways that state vendor.
their tax dollars are used wisely. Just accounting systems and processes • Outgoing mail machines — the
as working families must cut can be made more accurate and state saved 20percent, or $876,000,
expenses and look for ways to save, useful in decision-making. by negotiating a new contract with
all governments must tighten their a long-time vendor.
Uniform financial reporting across all
belts and make the most of every
state agencies and higher education • Fleet —the state expects to save $7
institutions will shine the brightest million on fleet vehicles through
Our office endeavors to do its part in light on the state’s finances and allow contract negotiations. Also, for the
improving Texas government state leaders to obtain real-time, first time, the state will look beyond
transparency, and some of our reliable information to make well- the sticker price to consider the
initiatives may stand as templates for informed decisions. cost of fueling vehicles for 100,000
other governments in crafting miles.
transparency initiatives. Taking a Second Initiative:
common-sense approach to the issue, As one of the largest purchasing
Texas Smart Buy entities in the nation, our state is
we recently introduced Open Book
Texas, a three-part set of initiatives Transparency helps spotlight making that leverage work for us. For
aimed at improving government spending inefficiencies after the fact, years, families have used strategies
accounting accuracy, spending and and our office also works to make like buying in bulk to save money, and
transparency. Texas state government a better it makes sense for governments to
shopper from the outset. That is have the same option.
First Initiative: where Texas Smart Buy helps.
Single Set of Books The initiative gives agencies and
Third Initiative:
local governments access to an online Texas Transparency Check-Up
To shine more light on state agency
shopping cart — much like shopping With the rollout of a new website,
bookkeeping, beyond our Where the
at popular online retailers — that Texas Transparency Check-Up, our
Money Goes online expenditure
allows them to purchase goods and office expands on previous online
database, we are pursuing an
services through state-negotiated accountability efforts and encourages
initiative to introduce more uniformity
contracts. By purchasing from those transparency at all levels of Texas
in Texas government accounting.

Continued on next page...

government finance. The website public. Transparency and wise spending are
offers transparency guidance to local important during the best of times and
The website highlights local
governments and provides Texans an absolutely essential in an uncertain
government success stories, provides
opportunity to see how well their local economy where there are no dollars to
links to exemplary local government
governments stack up in offering waste. To operate with the utmost
websites and gives taxpayers tips to
online access to financial information. integrity, all governments should
ensure that their government is open
show the same common sense,
In implementing this initiative, we and accountable.
resourcefulness and thrift when
researched the financial transparency
When you know what you are spending money as taxpayers. ■
of the top 50 Texas cities, Texas
spending, you know how to spend
counties, school districts and other
better. Our office is committed to Susan Combs was elected Texas
local entities. Texas Transparency
seeing that philosophy spread to Comptroller of Public Accounts in
Check-Up reveals the results. The site
every level of government. In the age November of 2006. For an in-depth look at
also offers local governments step- Open Book Texas initiatives, visit
of the Internet, there is seldom a
by-step advice for posting information
reason to not publish public
online and presenting it in a way that
information online.
is readable and understandable to the

Georgia’s Commitment to Customer
Service and Good Government
By the Georgia Governor’s Office of Communications and the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office of Media Relations

eorgia elected officials show a the website allows you to find Government initiative. Georgians can

G commitment to government
transparency and high ethical
standards through the use of
professional services expenditures
made by state organizations. Open
Georgia also includes financial reports
access her agency’s budget and
monthly expenditures, with detailed
information on spending categories.
technology. Through the Open Georgia containing the Comprehensive Annual The Secretary of State’s website
website ( and Financial Report, budgetary highlights the agency’s ethics policy
the Secretary of State’s Transparency compliance reports, the Budget in and Secretary Handel’s personal and
in Government website Brief and single audits. The site allows campaign financial disclosures.
(, Georgians to review payments to
“Responsible fiscal management
citizens have direct access to detailed vendors doing business with the state
begins with a commitment to
accounts of government spending. during the two previous fiscal years.
transparency and accountability,” She
The Open Georgia site was created by The website also allows citizens to said. “Georgia taxpayers deserve to
the Transparency in Government Act search for reports that evaluate how know how their tax dollars are being
and formally launched on January 5, well various state programs are spent, and I am pleased to provide
2009. operating, including performance them with that information.”
audits, program evaluations, and
“The Open Georgia website makes In addition to these new tools, Georgia
special examinations released by the
state government more transparent to lawmakers continue to look for
Department of Audits and Accounts
its customer, the taxpayer,” said additional ways to make public
over the last five years. In 2010, it will
Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue at the information easily accessible. Rep. Ed
be expanded to include grant and
time. “By being willing to further open Lindsey introduced legislation in the
contact payments to vendors by state
the halls of government to the public, 2009 session of the General Assembly
we give citizens more confidence that that would require counties, cities and
their tax dollars are being spent There are numerous ways to search for school boards with budgets over $1
wisely.” salary and vendor information. Users million to develop a free, searchable
can search by name, title, description website that would include all sources
“We have taken a major step towards
and agency and export search results of revenue, itemized by amount; the
fully open and easily accessible
to Microsoft Excel or Adobe .pdf entity’s annual budget; a list of all
accounting of how every state tax
formats. contracts and obligations of more than
dollar is spent,” said its sponsor State
$1,000; and an itemization of salaries
Senator Chip Roberts. “The very best To ensure that the website is able to
and other expenses paid to all public
way to prevent wasteful government carry out its mission the state has
officials and employees.
spending is to let those paying the bills trained operators at its main phone
see exactly where their money is number, 1-800-GEORGIA, to direct Georgia officials know government
going.” citizens to a specific web address or to functions best when it is made
answer detailed questions about the accountable to the citizens who fund it.
Open Georgia allows citizens online
state’s performance. The commitment Georgia’s dedication to making
access to agency expenditures on
to provide further details on spending information easily accessible
professional services, employee
is part of a larger commitment from the demonstrates that the state continues
salaries and travel expenses, state
state to make government more to lead the way in truly becoming a
financial reports and program reviews.
customer-friendly. citizen-friendly government. ■
In the Salaries and Travel
Reimbursements section, the public Georgia Secretary of State Karen
can find salaries and travel Handel has demonstrated a For additional information, please contact
reimbursements paid to employees of commitment to government the Georgia Governor’s Office of
Communications at 404-651-7774, or the
the state and employees of local transparency, ethics and responsible Georgia Secretary of State’s Office of Media
boards of education. The “professional stewardship of taxpayer dollars Relations at 404-656-4269.
Services and Expenditure” section of through her agency’s Transparency in

Transparency 2.0 processing power, tools, bandwidth,
and mobile computing -- that was
previously only available to large
organisations and governments.
By Laurence Millar
Deputy Commissioner and Government CIO Futurists point to non-linear change
State Services Commission which means that people’s capabilities
New Zealand will only accelerate.
The Web has gone from read-only to
read-write. The 2.0 dynamic is very
hanks to the popularity of the mostly by individual agencies. The different from the 1.0 state. People are

T term Web 2.0, the suffix ‘2.0’ is

being applied to just about
anything. However, there is one benefit
State Services Commission, in its
leadership role of the State Services,
provides information and metrics at an
treated as partners, equals in pursuit
of shared outcomes and common
goals. In turn, this is driving the
from this indiscriminate labelling. It all-of-government level. Two notable expectations that people have of
helps frame some important examples are the Kiwis Count survey, government.
questions—What is the current 1.0 which looks at perceptions of the
state? What are the limitations of the public service, and the annual Human Change is happening now.
1.0 state? What are the drivers for the Resource Capability survey of the
There are too many examples around
2.0 state? Finally, how do we get there? government workforce.
the world to ignore. Oft-quoted
examples include New Zealand’s
Transparency 1.0 Limitations of the 1.0 state TheyWorkForYou and the UK’s
The people’s right to know is a central There is always room for improvement. FixMyStreet. Less well known but
pillar of democratic societies. For example, the potential to better equally powerful is Sami Ben
Transparency, which gives effect to systematise the release of government Gharbia’s campaign out of the
this right, is a critical element for information and to improve the Netherlands to highlight the issue of
building and maintaining trust in operation of the Official Information political prisoners in Tunisia. His
government. Effectively holding Act has been identified. efforts include a Google map mashup
government accountable for services, of the semi-secret locations where the
Notwithstanding the improvements prisoners are being held with YouTube
decisions, and spending taxpayers’
that can and should be made to the videos and a blog.
money depends on transparency.
current transparency regime, there are
Transparency 1.0 is underpinned by a limitations inherent in the dynamic and
legislative framework. For example, in mindset that Transparency 1.0
Getting to Transparency 2.0
New Zealand the Official Information addresses. Either people ask for Three things can facilitate
Act allows people, with very few information and government responds Transparency 2.0 and enhance public
exceptions, to get the information they or the government makes it available value.
want from ministers and government under a legislative or good-practice
First, the default should be that all
organisations. Fiscal transparency is imperative. The underlying assumption
non-personal data and information
mandated by the Public Finance Act is one of inequality; a mindset of
held by government is publicly
and the Reserve Bank of New Zealand opposing interests that requires a
available. This requires a huge shift in
Act. watchdog.
attitudes and practices and is
Our robust transparency regime has In this situation, transparency provides therefore likely to be part of a larger
been internationally recognised. New a vital check and balance dynamic. renewal of the democratic fabric. It is
Zealand is joint first with Denmark and However, Transparency 1.0 by its very a worthy goal and even incremental
Sweden on Transparency nature cannot act as a major enabling steps are welcome. The Scandinavian
International’s 2008 Corruption lever that uses transparency’s countries present good examples of
Perception Index (see potential to fundamentally transform what can be achieved. While the list the relationship between people and
Second, data and information should
leaders have changed over the years, government.
be freely available and usable. This
New Zealand remains near the top.
means it is easy to find; in open
This isn’t by resting on previous Change drivers machine-readable formats; has
achievements but by actively working
The easiest way to describe the adequate metadata; licensing is
on openness, trust, and transparency.
drivers of change is to point to the standardised with no or minimal
The legislative framework is emergence of Web 2.0. The average constraints on reuse; pricing is
complemented by other measures, person now has the capability -- reasonable (zero cost being the norm);
Continued on next page...

and it is timely. investment decisions and wider Key Message
Finally, there needs to be a shift to Our vision is “A world class system of
genuine dialogue; with two-way These are still the exception rather professional State Services serving
conversations and participation than business as usual. They are the government of the day and meeting
replacing consultation. Key enablers however beginning to have a small but the needs of New Zealanders.” These
are a reduction of information real impact on outcomes and are needs are changing, now more than
asymmetries and the development of promising signs of the dawn of ever, and therefore the State Services
mutual respect. Transparency 2.0. needs to change. One good response
Within the New Zealand State One of the challenges is measuring is to develop a new level of
Services there have been a few progress. A promising framework to transparency fit for the 21st century -
tentative steps towards this goal. It’s measure transparency in this new era call it Transparency 2.0 or something
blog In Development (http://blog.e.- has been put forward by European else - even as we strengthen our allows for a much richer and Commission researcher David Osimo. current transparency regime.
ongoing conversation between Osimo contends that the model This new level of transparency will be
officials and people. Public inputs into currently being used to measure e- based on a win-win dynamic.
revamping the Police Act in 2007 used government progress is outdated and Government will work with
a wiki with some success. A commun- based on an old vision of government. communities as a partner, jointly
ity forum was also used in 2007 to To accurately measure progress in a achieving the public outcomes that
discuss and come up with ways to Web 2.0 world, the Osimo model has society wants. ■
increase road safety. A broadband four stages of transparency and
map provides transparency of supply reusability of public data (from no
Laurence Millar is the first New Zealand
and demand National Broadband Map information to reusable and machine- Government CIO. For additional
homepage (http://broadbandmap.- readable data). information contact on the leading to better

their e-government strategies such as

Measuring E-Government 2.0 “being among the first three countries
in two years.” However, the traditional
approach to e-government
By David Osimo
Tech4i2 ltd measurement is no longer satisfactory,
because it focuses on the availability of
online services (e.g. the possibility to
pay taxes online).The results of this
n the context of e-government benefits.The technical nature of e- traditional policy focus are not

I policies, measurement tools have

enjoyed high success over the last
ten years. Following the management
government calls for non-technical
management tools which are able to
inform political discussion and
particularly encouraging: these
services are still very little used, and
there is little evidence of the much
mantra “if you can’t measure it, you decisions. In other words, expected radical change in the
can’t manage it,” policy makers have measurement and benchmarking has bureaucratic culture of the public
looked for robust measurement tools to become an essential tool to steer and administration, which was supposed to
support decisions. A considerable shape e-government policies. become more efficient and customer-
number of initiatives have been oriented through IT investment.
In Europe, in particular, benchmarking
established, at the regional and global In fact, raising the issue of a new
plays a particularly important role to
levels.The UN global e-government benchmarking approach points to the
coordinate policy measures across
survey, the Brown global e-government wider need for a new e-government
different European Union Member
report, the European benchmarking e- vision, which focuses on the values of
States.The European approach to
government survey, are three well communication and information –
measuring e-government has been
known examples, all based on a human something like an e-government 2.0
highly successful in establishing a
assessment of government websites. vision. If putting services online was
simple, robust and easily
One of the reasons behind this understandable measurement method. the “flagship goal” of e-government
flourishing of measurement tools is the This metric has become very policy in the web 1.0 era, what policy
actual difficulty for policy-makers to influential among policy-makers: priority will play a similar role in the
manage e-government and show its several countries set a specific goal in Web 2.0 era?
Continued on next page...

We argue that just as the flagship goal understand and meaningful. For
of e-government has been until now example, through visualization tools,
“making services available online,” the government can no longer hide behind
new flagship goal should be analysis and charts they themselves
transparency, “making public data provide. Only reusable data make
available for reuse.” transparency a reality because they
enable new intermediaries to make
The most successful web 2.0 initiatives
sense of public data and openly
in the public field—such as
discuss them. and in the EU, Reusable data are important because and the various they change the incentives of
initiatives of the Sunlight Foundation in government behaviour.The publicity of
the US—are built on reusing citizens’ feedback induces civil
government data in order to enhance servants to be more responsive to
transparency and accountability of citizens.The visualization of voting
government. One of the main barriers behaviour of politicians makes them
to a wider diffusion of such initiatives more responsive to voters.
is the lack of available and easily
Traditional e-government initiatives
reusable data.Too much time is spent
require cultural change to generate a
scraping and cleaning public data in
positive change. Web 2.0 applications
order to make it usable. In December
create cultural change by altering the
2007, 30 open-government advocates
incentives behind government The proposal tries to combine the
spelled key requirements for
behaviour. Moreover, the expenditure to simplicity and feasibility of the EU
government data which emphasized
make public data available is much approach with the new values of Web
the need for easily accessible,
smaller than the investment to make 2.0. It identifies a limited set of ¨basic
machine-processable and highly
services available online. public data¨ and it proposes 4 stages of
reusable data.This would dramatically
reduce the barriers to developing web- We propose a new approach to data availability.
based applications that bring social measurement of e-government, which, The key benefit of this approach is that
value, as it has been recently shown by rather than measuring the availability not only does it provide a way to
the initiative. of online services, measures the monitor the degree of transparency of
availability of reusable and machine- different governments, but also it
Web 2.0 applications are particularly
processable data. creates a peer-pressure mechanism
good at making data easy to
towards the publication of reusable
Benchmarking e-government 2.0 data. It provides a clear roadmap to
policy-makers where the publication of
Select 20 types of basic public data such as: reusable, machine processable data is
• beneficiaries of public funding (agriculture, research, industry etc); the ultimate goal of e-government.
• draft legislation;
• MPs votes Further work is needed to define
Phase 1 • party donations priority data, refine the stages and the
• planning applications;
appropriate format of data, and pilot
• air pollution data
• citizens feedback / satisfaction surveys results the methodology. However, consistent
• procurement contract assigned with the Web 2.0 approach, this
measurement does not have to be
For each type, assess to what extent these data are available on the web:
0 (no information available)
implemented by government. It is quite
1 (description of the procedure to obtain the information through easy to imagine a crowdsourcing
Freedom of Information) scenario, where an NGO provides an
Phase 2
2 (information available in non reusable, non-machine online, free data-collection tool,
readable format) through which citizens can input
3 (information available in reusable and machine processable format information on the availability of
such as xml , csv) reusable data on the website of their
Compute “data availability” scores for each country based on an municipality. ■
Phase 3
average the scores for each type of data.
Compare the average scores for the countries being benchmarked and David Osimo is a managing partner of
Phase 4
develop international rankings. Tech4i2 ltd. For additional information

E-discovery, Transparency entertaining requiring (a) the
production of electronic versions of
records with associated “metadata,”
and Culture Change even if hard copies exist in “official”
recordkeeping systems, and/or (b)
expedited searches of hundreds of
By Jason R. Baron, Esq. thousands or millions of e-mails,
including from backup tapes, even if
such media and systems are not set up
to handle that kind of demand. Of
he December 2006 changes to Brave New World, Part 2: In a civil

T the Federal Rules of Civil

Procedure, which introduced the
term “electronically stored
rights class action brought against the
Immigration and Customs Enforcement
(ICE) Division of the U.S. Department
course, the government retains viable
affirmative defenses against truly
unreasonable and burdensome
litigation search and production
information,” are transforming the way of Homeland Security, a federal district demands, as well it should. But federal
federal court litigation is being court in Manhattan considered at agencies are whistling past the
practiced in the United States. In length the discoverability of at least graveyard if they believe that existing
literally hundreds of published three types of “metadata” associated forms of recordkeeping remain
decisions, courts are applying greater with ICE records.
scrutiny to electronically stored These are:
information, concentrating on how “substantive”
electronic forms of documents and metadata consisting
records will be preserved, formatted, of textual
searched, and produced in the context modifications to
of the particular case. For the public documents and
sector, this is not just the sound of editorial comments
distant thunder. Increasingly, federal embedded within
agencies are being required to confront documents that are
how their electronic records will be retained by the
produced in litigation. proprietary software
and retrievable by
Brave New World, Part 1: In a
end users; “system”
decision dated January 6, 2009, the U.S.
metadata, consisting
Court of Appeals for the District of
of date and time of
Columbia affirmed a finding of
creation of
contempt againstThe Office of Federal
documents or when documents were adequate in the face of these new
Housing Enterprise Oversight, in large
modified, including material that might external realities.
part due to the agency’s failure to meet
have been deleted by the creator of the
stipulated-to deadlines in e-discovery. E-discovery places in sharp relief the
document; and “embedded” metadata,
The agency had committed to present-day Achilles heel of “e-
consisting of spreadsheet formulas,
undertaking an “appropriate search” of government,” namely: while virtually all
hidden columns, and hyperlinks.The
disaster-recovery backup tapes for desktop government records are born
government largely prevailed on a
documents. It was an agreement to digital, only a small percentage end up
technicality, due to plaintiffs’ failure to
produce non-privileged documents being “preserved” in a electronic
timely raise the metadata issue:
found responsive to 400 overly-broad recordkeeping system approved by the
although the next set of class action
keyword search terms, where the National Archives and Records
plaintiffs almost assuredly won’t be
production set consisted of 660,000 Administration (NARA), pursuant to
making that same mistake. See Aguilar
recovered documents that needed to the Federal Records Act. Few
v. ICE Division of the U.S. Dep’t of
be, but could not be, reviewed in time. agencies have switched to managing
Homeland Security, 2008 WL 5062700
The Court of Appeals was not moved to information electronically in a manner
(S.D.N.Y. Nov. 21, 2008).
relieve the agency of its contempt consistent with the NARA-endorsed
citation, despite the fact that it had Each new e-discovery ruling consists of standard for electronic recordkeeping.
spent $ 6 million, or more than 9percent a wake up call to the federal agency The vast majority of agencies instead
of its total annual budget in connection involved. In these and similar cases, are still relying on legacy records
with conducting the search. See In re agencies come to realize (usually, after schedules that assume hard copy
Fannie Mae Litigation, 2009 WL 21528 the fact), that they must get a better printouts of e-mail, word processing,
(D.C. Cir.), available at handle on the downside risk posed by a and other applications suffice as the failure to be prepared for e-discovery. official records of the agency. Little or
n/opinions/ 200901.htm. Today, federal courts seriously Continued on next page...

no attention is being paid to preserving e-mail from the mail server to manage each agency faces;
in a coherent, uniform, and consistent it in a central location, without much or • Improving their baseline knowledge
fashion potentially large numbers of any effort on the part of individual management of their own
electronic communications on users. Agencies considering e-mail
information assets, starting with
otherwise highly networked systems archiving without also thinking through
inventorying and/or data mapping all
that constitute long-term temporary or its records management implications
agency ESI repositories,
permanent federal records. As a exchange short-term litigation risk in
consequence, government agencies are terms of deleted information, for the applications, and platforms in
at least two steps behind when expense and attendant risk associated anticipation of discovery about those
confronted with a serious and with building up huge, unstructured very subjects;
sophisticated e-discovery demand. data collections that cannot be • Changing workflow to support
They routinely have trouble collecting adequately managed or searched.The electronic business processes;
and preserving records in their native, adoption of e-mail archiving combined • Updating legacy records schedules
proprietary form (with metadata), and with appropriate records management
and ensuring that unscheduled
they have trouble searching them in a controls and filters may well be a
electronic records (in the form of
reasonable way – especially if they must constructive step forward, however.
databases or on network
rely on the enormous expense of Agencies moving toward the adoption
restoring disaster-recovery backup of such new technologies should, in my applications) are properly scheduled;
tapes to do so. view, be applauded in thinking outside and
the present “only hard copies are • Appointing a “knowledge counsel”
The “print-to-paper” world of
official records” box. For additional who will be the “go to” person in
government recordkeeping has
guidance, see NARA Bulletin 2008-05 each headquarters and regional
continued to survive the Electronic
(Guidance concerning the use of e-mail component of a General Counsel’s or
Freedom of Information Act, the
archiving applications to store e-mail), Solicitor’s office, who would function
Government Paperwork Elimination
available at as a clearinghouse and repository of
Act, the E-Government Act, and a host information on the IT and
of similar statutes. With limited
mgmt/bulletins/2008/2008-05.html. recordkeeping practices of the
exceptions, federal agencies generally
have failed to adopt modern, efficient The business case for adopting agency.
means of preserving e-mail and other electronic recordkeeping should be Although agencies could probably
forms of unstructured electronic apparent. E-discovery increases risks continue to live in a world of paper
records on the desktop, in a manner exponentially for agencies that rely on recordkeeping practices absent e-
that upholds the highest ideals of the paper, on backup tapes, and on end discovery, e-discovery is and will most
recordkeeping laws. users to respond to discovery assuredly continue to be a driver of
obligations. Agencies must begin to culture change. How many more
Ironically, the place in government
treat information as critical assets to litigation shocks to the system should
generating the most public controversy
be managed strategically, which the federal government take before
for flaws in its recordkeeping system,
increasingly will mean managing agencies understand the value of
namely the White House, actually has
information electronically.They should better, more automated processes for
remained comparatively ahead of the
be working to transform current the long-term maintenance of federal
curve. Notwithstanding allegations of
business practices to truly embrace e- records, so as to ensure better
“missing” e-mail, approximately 32
government in cradle-to-grave transparency in the form of enhanced
million Clinton e-mail records, and now
workflow processes, from record access?The world awaits our collective
on the order of ten times that amount of
creation through ultimate disposition. answer, and if none is forthcoming,
Bush 43 e-mail records, have been
preserved in electronic form under the My six prescriptions for change include parties certainly won’t be reticent about
Presidential Records Act and the federal agencies: filing additional lawsuits demanding
Federal Records Act. greater and more costly disclosures of
• Committing to electronic the government’s electronic records. ■
No other place in government has so recordkeeping and/or e-mail
far approached this volume of archiving with records management Jason R. Baron is Director of Litigation at
wholesale e-mail capture under the controls in place; the National Archives and Records
public records laws, although some Administration. The statements expressed
• Embracing preventive measures in
have begun to contemplate the idea of in this article are the author’s personal
“e-mail archiving,” which holds out the the form of ad hoc, interdisciplinary views and do not purport to represent the
promise of a “quick fix” to litigation groups of professionals (records positions taken by NARA or any other
risk, especially from an IT perspective, officers, attorneys, CIOs and IT staff, component of the federal government. For
and senior executives), meeting to additional information contact
where the agency “just” saves
everything. Such technologies remove discuss the future e-discovery risks

AGA Opens the Doors
of Government to the Citizens
By Relmond Van Daniker, DBA, CPA
Executive Director
Association of Government Accountants

allooning budget deficits. Out

B of control spending. Higher

taxes. Fewer services. Rightly
or wrongly, citizens associate these
issues with government finance at a
time when governments at all levels
face increasing challenges and
tighter-than-ever budgets.
Last year, the Association of
Government Accountants (AGA)
commissioned a survey to determine
whether citizens are satisfied with
their governments. The objective of
this first survey was to establish a
baseline understanding of public
attitudes, concerning transparency
and accountability progress—or the
lack of it—which could be tracked
semi-annually. We were not surprised
to learn they are deeply dissatisfied
with the lack of information coming
from their federal, state and local
Of 1,652 citizens surveyed by Harris
Interactive, 89 percent said that, as
taxpayers, they are entitled to
transparent financial management
information, and 57 percent said that
government has an obligation to
provide it. They further indicated that
government is failing to meet its
financial management reporting
needs, and that poor performance has
created a problem of trust between
residents and their governments. The The State of Maryland’s 4-page Citizen-Centric Report.
survey showed that governments
survey, AGA had responded to the The suggested format shows
need innovative means of
dearth of information available to community information—such as
communication to overcome those
citizens by encouraging governments population figures, regional
challenges. In short, the survey
across the country to produce four- characteristics and government goals
uncovered a significant “expectations
page Citizen-Centric Reports. The for the community—on the first page,
gap” between what the citizens want
reports allow governments to produce and the second page presents a
from their government and what
a snapshot containing the information performance report on key missions
they’re getting.
citizens want and need in an easily and service. The third page details
Even before we commissioned the understood, visually appealing format. cost and revenue information, and the
Continued on next page...

fourth looks forward to the year 3. Bar and/or pie charts to display hallmark of AGA’s effort to advance
ahead. revenues and expenses. government accountability at all
levels by making government more
AGA believes that these reports will 4. Statements such as: An accessible to the people it serves—
make governments more accountable independent audit was conducted, the taxpaying public.
to their citizens, and will help resulting in a clean audit opinion.
Americans become better educated Complete financial information In addition to this initiative, AGA
and better able to participate in can be found at offers a well-respected Certified
government activities. Government Financial Manager
5. Future challenges affecting the designation, which recognizes the
The AGA Citizen-Centric entity. unique skills and experiences
Government Reporting Initiative is
6. Statements such as: We want to required to succeed in today’s
steadily expanding. The U.S.
government finance environment.
Departments of the Interior and hear from you. Do you like this
Also in keeping with our efforts to
Defense, as well as the U.S. Coast report? Do you believe it should
advance government accountability,
Guard, have produced reports at the include any other information?
we reward outstanding Performance
federal level. Oregon, Nevada, Please let us know by contacting and Accountability Reports (PARs) at
Tennessee, South Carolina and xxx. the federal level, and Service Efforts
Washington and cities and counties
7. Report is ‘free’ of technical and Accomplishments Reports
such as the District of Columbia,
accounting language. produced by state and local
Saco, ME, Tallahassee, FL, Portland,
OR, Bellevue, WA, and Blount County, 8. Report incorporates pictures and
TN, have produced Citizen-Centric other graphics to make it visually AGA provides a wide array of training
Reports. Many others are in the appealing. courses to help government finance
works. professionals remain up-to-date and
9. Report has been distributed relevant as they provide the
AGA now offers a free Certificate of (hard.c.opy, posted to website information decision-makers need
Excellence in Citizen-Centric
and/or posted in newspaper) each day. Without timely, reliable,
Reporting to recognize entities that
efficient financial details, program
prepare and distribute high-quality 10. Report is issued in a timely manner
managers can’t succeed. Our
Citizen-Centric Reports. To be eligible following the close of the entity’s
members are on the front lines of the
for the certificate, governments must fiscal year: effort to ensure this information is
meet high standards of content, visual
a. First-year report submitted to readily available.
appeal, readability, distribution and
timeliness in reporting as outlined AGA: must be within six months We’re making strides in our effort to
below by our guidelines. b. Second-year report submitted open the doors of government to the
to AGA: must be within five citizens. They pay the bills, so it’s only
The following elements must be
months fair that they know where the money
included in the report to be eligible for
goes, what they got for it and that it’s
the Certificate of Excellence: c. Third-year report submitted to being managed properly. That’s why
1. How the entity is organized/- AGA: must be within four months we also recommend that governments
operates (items such as vision include information about their
d. Fourth-year and beyond report
statement and strategic goals) financial statement audits, which
submitted to AGA: must be within
provide another layer of
2. Key accomplishments surrounding three months
accountability. ■
key missions and service and/or Citizen-Centric Reports represent the
along with selected performance future of government financial For more information about AGA visit
measures. reporting. This program has become a

Shedding Light on Corruption

India: Revolutionizing Land Records

World Bank

Agriculture still plays a vital role in the percent of Karnataka’s domestic
is late in the morning as M. Ramaiah, economy of this state, which has an product and remains the largest source
55, a farmer and father of three, area equal in size to the United of employment in the state.To increase
stands straight and still, his eyes fixed Kingdom and a population twice that of farm incomes and empower local
on a computer screen in front of him. Australia. farmers, land ownership is essential.
He waits patiently as the computer And land ownership, to be
The contrast between rural Karnataka
indicates that the printing process has acknowledged, must be documented.
and technology-driven Bangalore
begun. Shortly afterwards, he receives Ironically enough, the most precious
couldn’t be sharper. Could technology
a neatly printed document.The piece of possession a poor illiterate farmer may
be the missing link, capable of bringing
paper in his hands states that he owns have, next to his land, is the written
development to the villages and their
a small plot of land near Ittamadu, a land record that safeguards his rights
millions of residents?
village located some 50 kilometers from as legal owner. Land records are vital
Bangalore, the information technology The answer is not completely clear. But documents for both farmers and the
capital of India. what is sure is that technology, through government, used to prove ownership
as simple a means as computerized and required for numerous
In Bangalore, the huge growth of the
land ownership records, is providing administrative functions as well. Land
information technology industry has
these farmers with a measure of records are needed three times a year
attracted an influx of clients from
security and peace of mind they did not to secure crop loans; they are also used
around the world—multinational
previously have. for verification and for access to
companies taking advantage of low
pensions and various other government
wages, low maintenance costs, and
A Vital Record programs.
state-of-the-art technology. But outside
the city, in the rest of the state of Agriculture accounts for about 28 These records form the basis for
Karnataka, it’s a different story.
Continued on next page...

assignment and Putting land records called “mutation record,” which is rupees to prove that he owned his small
online means easy access to vital needed if a farmer wants to sell land or plot of land. “First, we had to search for
information for settlement of land titles buy a plot of land elsewhere, to be the officials, and then wait for them to
and must stand up under legal scrutiny. delivered to the farmer.The mutation hear our pleas. Now, within a few
But for 200 years, the responsibility of process is now completed in 45 days. minutes and by paying only 15 rupees,
maintaining land ownership records we are able to get our land deeds in no
Besides these efficiency improvements,
has been under the tight control of a time.”
Bhoomi’s important safeguard features,
powerful minority of village
such as its biometric logon system,
accountants. Fair User Fee
help ensure against fraud.The logon
system is used to authenticate— G. Venkatanaraiah, like other Bhoomi
Bhoomi through their fingerprints—the village users, doesn’t begrudge the 15 rupees.
In the local language of Karnataka, accountants and other administrative That’s because another successful
bhoomi means land. Bhoomi is also the personnel who access Bhoomi. Each feature of the computerized system has
name given to a groundbreaking piece village accountant must be been its introduction of a standard user
of software created to computerize 20 fingerprinted in order to have access to fee.
million land records in the state.The the machine where the database is
stored; this system also creates a According to G. Satyavathi, deputy
manual upkeep of land records before
record of who was the last person to secretary for E-governance in
Bhoomi provided ample latitude for
access the deeds.The biometric logon Karnataka, farmers do not mind paying
tampering, exploitation, and
system has thus virtually eliminated the this fee because they are satisfied with
harassment from powerful vested
opportunity for corruption and fraud. the system. Before, the price for a land
interests.Those who suffered the most
record was at the individual village
from this system were the small and
accountant’s discretion. Further,
marginal farmers who spent all of their Yesterday and Today revenue collection from land records
meager resources fighting to keep their
G. Venkatanaraiah, 40, a poor farmer rarely made it back to the state coffers.
lands, bribing and cajoling village
from the small village of With Bhoomi, on the other hand,
officials in order to obtain a record.
Gundhatherhalli, located about 14 farmers are pleased with the quality
Unfortunately, in all too many cases,
kilometers from Ramanagaram, in rural and consistency of the service, the
these farmers would lose not just their
Bangalore, owns a 2.5-acre plot of land. government has increased its revenues,
land, but also their faith in the concept
He came to the district office today to and the system’s sustainability is
of justice.
get a printout of his land record. G. ensured.
Before Bhoomi, over 9,000 village Venkatanaraiah is a small man, with
In the Ramanagaram district office, for
accountants maintained 20 million deep, dark eyes and an expressive
instance, over 62,000 records have been
records manually.The subdistrict smile. As he approaches the Bhoomi
issued since Bhoomi’s introduction in
offices, such as Ramanagaram’s, rarely kiosk, a small group of villagers
2001, and the state has collected over
received any copies of the records that surround him, interested in seeing what
960,000 rupees.
were manually updated on the fields. the novelty is all about.
Thus, a virtual monopoly over these M. Ramaiah came to Ramanagaram
Thanks to the Bhoomi program, G.
records evolved—along with a today to get a printout of his land title in
Venkatanaraiah is able to print his land
seemingly limitless opportunity for preparation for his son’s upcoming
record in less than five minutes. With
corruption and fraud, not to mention marriage. Because of the marriage, he
this record, he hopes to get a loan to
error and inefficiency. needs proof of land ownership. Also, he
purchase fertilizers.The quality of his
wants to know how much land he
Bhoomi has changed all that. Notes land is not very good, but he can still
actually owns. He is concerned that,
Deepa Narayan, a senior advisor for the grow ragi—a grain similar in
because of his son’s marriage, there
World Bank, “It is telling that all of us consistency to bulgur that is one of the
will be a split in the family and that his
could recall family conflicts over land staple foods of Karnataka—and the
wife and daughters could lose their
records because of the high discretion” grain jowhar in enough quantities to
rights to the land.
of land recording officials. With feed him, his wife, and their two sons.
Bhoomi, 20 million land records for 6.7 The leftovers, together with some Bhoomi’s efficiency means he can
million farmers in 177 subdistricts have mangos from his plot, he will sell in focus on business rather than on
been computerized in the state of Ramanagaram. logistics. “The system is easy, and I am
Karnataka. very satisfied. Before, it would have
Before Bhoomi, G. Venkatanaraiah had
taken me three to four days to locate
Records that used to take weeks, or to pursue village accountants for
the village accountant—and they
even months, to obtain are now sometimes up to one week in order to
always changed the price for the
promptly available. For instance, it get a land record. Moreover, he used to
certificate. Now I pay 15 rupees every
could take up to six months for a so- have to pay anywhere from 5 to 50
Continued on next page...

agricultural sector more closely. Many
lessons are being learned through this
new ability to analyze ownership trends.
One of the things that Bhoomi was able
to demonstrate in quantifiable terms
was the huge disparity in land
ownership between the men and
women of Karnataka. According to the
records, only 10 percent of the state’s
land belongs to female farmers.
Another lesson is that information
technology can play a powerful role in
poverty reduction, but that its use and
potential have been largely overlooked.
Technology that increases poor
people’s access to information whether
of markets or services, and
computerization that reduces the
discretion of service providers, can be
powerful tools for self-empowerment
time.” When asked if M. Ramiah these do not require high literacy skills and poverty reduction.
receives a print out of his landthe price on the part of users seeking to access It is about noon when M. Ramaiah
was too steep, M. Ramaiah smiled and their records. leaves the Bhoomi kiosk in
said no. He too had been a record.“Now Ramanagaram. He folds the newly
they cannot take my land away.”victim Lessons From a Model System printed land record neatly and puts it in
of village accountants’ greed before. the front pocket of his shirt. “They will
Today, 10 million computerized records not take my land away now,” he says, as
are issued every year in Karnataka—an
Brain Child of a Civil Servant achievement other Indian states envy.
he climbs on a small, rusting bike,
which was leaning against the wall, and
It was Rajeev Chawla, a government Notes Sathayavathi, Karnataka’s E- starts to ride back home. In the
civil servant working at the National governance deputy, “Here is a distance, he stops to catch his breath,
Informatics Center in Bangalore, who successful project which has shown to and looks back. With a smile on his
recognized the need to find alternatives the people and the citizens of this state face, he waves. ■
for land-record reform.The state that, yes, it should be scalable to other
government supported Chawla as he states—and why not to other
designed, and then put into action, a countries? It’s a good model, and it is For more information about this and other
Development 360 stories,please contact
project to put all the local land records delivering services. I think this is a Ana Luna Barros
into a central computer. revolution in land records.”
The Bhoomi system soon followed. With the computerization of land titles,
Completely designed in-house by the the state is now able to take further
National Informatics Center, Bhoomi steps toward keeping an online
features touch screen kiosks, since database and scrutinizing the

Fighting Corruption, opaque government, and the role oil
and diamond revenues played in
funding the country’s destructive 27-
While Building Energy Security year civil war. In recent years, the
Angolan government has begun to take
some important steps to introduce
By Kathryn Joyce revenue and expenditure transparency
Revenue Watch Institute
into the public management of its
petroleum and mineral wealth,
including new elections and the
publication of budgets. However, the
n the Niger Delta of West Africa, the less than two dollars per day as they

I poorest communities live atop oil

and gas deposits that have
generated over $600 billion in oil
live and work next to the oil pipelines
that carry vast wealth through their
reforms have been incomplete, and
Angola’s scores on both corruption and
human development indicators are
some of the lowest in the world.
revenues over the past five decades.
This paradox of poverty amidst plenty is
Though Nigeria’s resource wealth could The culprit is often vast amounts of
often referred to as the “resource
spearhead development across the money changing hands outside of the
curse”—the too-common dilemma of
region—roads, schools, hospitals, and public eye.The key to transforming
resource-rich countries that remain
modernized technological development, wealth and stability in
underdeveloped, impoverished, and
infrastructure. For most Nigerians resource rich countries is making
plagued by corrupt and conflict, despite
quality of life has not improved but transparency and accountability the
the extractive resource wealth that
deteriorated. In the Niger Delta in shared concern of all parties engaged
could vastly improve their standard of
particular, the population faces new in the extractive industries:
diseases, rampant pollution that governments, companies and civil
undercuts traditional livelihoods such Angola, projected to become one of the society alike.
as fishing, and endemic corruption that highest-earning oil producing countries
Many Americans may be aware of the
has helped engender a violent in Africa over the next several decades,
disparity between the potential and
insurgency. Poverty prevails, with 90 has long been a poster country for the
reality of development in resource rich
percent of the population surviving on resource curse, due to its notoriously
countries, but fewer understand the

role that the United States can play in behave with greater transparency internationally operating oil companies,
promoting transparency worldwide— wherever they operate. including most major non-US
and why it is fitting that the U.S., one of companies, reducing the risk that more
The global transparency movement has
the world’s leading resource consumers transparent American companies
been growing for some years,
and the destination of 20 percent of would be put at a competitive
particularly since the introduction in
Nigerian oil alone, should take a leading disadvantage by their compliance. As
2002 of the voluntary Extractive Industry
role in this promotion. one of the largest consumers of other
Transparency Initiative (EITI), which
countries’ extractive resources, the U.S.
In the last Congress, a bill was standardizes a process for
is invariably affected by the business
introduced in the U.S. House that would governments to measure and improve
standards of oil-producing countries.
bolster transparency and accountability their disclosure practices for revenues
“Like it or not, we have a role to play.”
in the oil, gas, and mining industries from extractive companies.The broad
dramatically.The Extractive Industries support this initiative enjoys from A growing number of members of
Transparency Disclosure (EITD) Act companies, the Organization for Congress appear to share this attitude.
sponsored by Chairman Barney Frank Economic Co-operation and Since its introduction in 2008, the EITD
of the Financial Services Committee Development, as well as resource rich Act picked up 42 sponsors in the House
mandates that all domestic and foreign exporting countries, signals that and Senate, following the determined
companies registered with the increasing transparency is not just a work of Publish What You Pay, Revenue
Securities and Exchange Commission concern for low-income countries. Watch, Global Witness, Oxfam
(SEC) report their payments to America and many other coalition
The movement is beginning to take off
governments for any extractive industry members.The Senate version of the bill
in the United States as well. Senator
activity. was sponsored by New York Senator
Richard Lugar, ranking member of the
Charles Schumer.
Sarah Pray of the Publish What You Pay Senate Foreign Relations Committee
U.S. coalition, part of an international and a co-sponsor of the EITD Act, In September, Revenue Watch board
coalition on the forefront of the released a report on the resource curse members, partners and authors
transparency movement, compares in October 2008 entitled “The testified in support of the bill at two
today’s EITD act to an older example of Petroleum and Poverty Paradox: Senate hearings. “When major oil
the U.S. taking on corruption. In the Assessing U.S. and International producing countries are hobbled by an
1970s, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Community Efforts to Fight the unstable business environment, the
Act (FCPA) brought sweeping reform Resource Curse.”The report calls for U.S. economy and our energy security
of corrupt activities by American the U.S. to join the EITI and submit the suffer,” Revenue Watch Director Karen
companies operating abroad, taking on Interior Department’s royalty collection Lissakers testified. “Information is the
a culture of corruption so pervasive that to outside audit; to assist resource-rich lifeblood of healthy markets and of
some countries allowed tax deductions countries in managing their new healthy political systems, and the EITD
for bribes.Then, says Pray, the United revenues; and to “back their Act will contribute to both.”
States took the lead then because it transparency words with deeds,” by
With the findings of the Lugar report
was the right thing to do.Today, Publish requiring that extractive companies
and a new incoming administration,
What You Pay is leading the call for the publish their payments country-by-
Revenue Watch and the Publish What
EITD Act, along with the Revenue country, as the EITD Act requires.
You Pay coalition are optimistic about
Watch Institute and many other
Sarah Pray concurs with this “practice the passage of the EITD Act in 2009. We
coalition members. Pray says that new
what you preach” message. “If we're will continue to promote the standards
transparency in extractives revenues
encouraging other countries to of transparency and accountability that
around the world will have the same
implement the EITI, we should have a the bill represents. ■
long-term benefits as the FCPA has
law on our books, and also implement
had, by helping to make sure that
EITI ourselves.” Not only would this The Revenue Watch Institute
corrupt governments do not withhold or
boost U.S. credibility in its own calls for ( is a non-profit
mismanage extractive revenues that
transparency around the world, and in policy institute and grantmaking
could help build and sustain their organization that promotes the responsible
countries whose stability is linked to
countries. management of oil, gas and mineral
U.S. interests, but it would also be a
Just as the U.S. positively wielded its boon in countries where more resources for the public good.
economic influence in 1977 to begin to transparent behavior by U.S.
change business practices around the companies would improve U.S.
world, today it is in a position to drive diplomatic efforts and reputation.
the transparency agenda in the global “These companies are our
oil and mining sectors, by requiring ambassadors abroad. How they do
those companies under the jurisdiction business reflects on the U.S.”The bill
of the SEC from these sectors to would cover 90 percent of the top 50
Continued on next page...

Through a Glass, Darkly
What do we mean by transparency in government?
By Matthew Dunlap
Secretary of State
State of Maine

n 1973, America was shocked by The good news is that technology and the public and make their participation

I revelations first published in the

pages of the Washington Post that
the President of the United States had
telecommunications make it easier
than ever for the public to extract
information about budgets, programs
meaningful are left with a number of
For the policymaker, one key question
been implicated in activities meant to and the people who administer them.
is what exactly it is the public is
consolidate power and undermine any Nonetheless, statutory provisions that
interested in. While modern notices
political opposition. Earlier in our anchor the public’s access to
and availability of financial
nation’s history, President Warren G. government activities remain mired in
information, campaign finance
Harding’s administration was rocked standards from a different time. For
disclosures, budget documents,
by dark allegations surrounding oil example, most public-notice laws were
reports from watchdogs, and other
leases and corruption that became written in times when not every town
information is readily available, for the
known as the Teapot Dome scandal. even had ready access to newspapers,
public accessing such information it’s
Most recently, allegations of Illinois so that posting of notices of
all very much like drinking from a fire
Governor Rod Blagojevich trying to government meetings and warrants
“sell” President Obama’s vacant for government action were only
Senate seat led to the governor’s required to be posted in “conspicuous Secondly, there is the element of the
removal from office. places,” probably the front door of the public that inherently distrusts any
local church or town hall. Today, many government information, from any
Big and small, reports of instances of
states require posting notices of source—or worse, that element of
wrongdoing, waste, and favoritism
legislative hearings and agency society that simply doesn’t care.
abound through history and
rulemaking proposals in newspaper Nonetheless, those citizens deserve
contemporary news reports. The
legal notice sections which rarely accountability too, and whether they
public demands transparency and
attract much public attention. Such come to trust the process or the
accountability in government—but
requirements—and the political product will largely hinge on how
what does that mean? And how do we
adherence to them—represent an usable and verifiable information they
achieve it?
anachronistic resignation of public receive is.
While corruption is easy to define and ennui to governmental proceedings,
Finally, once the information is
root out, “waste” is not. One and the political advantages that
aggregated and made available,
observer’s waste may be another’s offers bureaucrats.
someone has to use it. For
vital effort; the politics of prioritization
(To keep this in the proper context, this policymakers this may be more
make such discussions circular. But
was common in New England in intuitive, but is no more common than
public trust that the best available
colonial times, and many of these the utilization of information about
solutions are arrived at should be
requirements are still on the books. programs and budgets by the general
more empirically quantifiable. How to
When the author was the chair of the public. Thus policymakers rely on
make information available and usable
local city party committee, he was “common sense” and “life
is just one challenge.
required—by law—to post the notice of experience” instead of historical data,
In October 2008, the National the party caucus on the town bulletin bringing the whole matter around full
Electronic Commerce Coordinating board as well as in the local newspaper circle.
Council (eC3) hosted a symposium in two weeks in advance of the caucus. If
Tricky, too, is context. Raw data on
Washington, D.C.. The purpose of the he wanted anyone to attend, however,
salaries of public officials, for
symposium was to give better shape he had to call people.)
example, is often tasty fodder for
to the buzzword “transparency.” What
The public, policy advocates, and bloggers and watchdogs, but such
does it and what should it mean to
lawmakers who seek to modernize spreadsheets almost never include
public officials? And how can it be an
public participation and the even a summary sentence of what
effective tool for the public?
transparency that is required to inform those officials are responsible for, or
Continued on next page...

what would be comparable in the have greater opportunity than ever to the watchtower, that all the
private sector. But contextualizing share information. Many websites are safeguards against arrogance and
information is also controlling it, and now dedicated to examining not only corruption work. But they don’t. This is
many public officials are reluctant to programs, but what is said about the unsolvable problem of
editorialize or justify their actions to a them, and monitor for disparate facts transparency: it doesn’t guarantee
wary public, seeking instead to avoid a and truthful statements. Of course, accountability—only vigilance does
fight. the old-fashioned public forum where that. There is no ready substitute for
policymakers and administrators an engaged public, or method in law
But the public also has a
answer questions and present that assures that elected officials and
responsibility, too, and there’s the
information in person still has a the bureaucrats who report to them
political hair trigger. When the public
significant place in the realm of will behave in the public’s best
is outraged, there’s little room for
transparent government. Any method interest.
civics lessons, especially coming from
for encouraging public participation is
government officials. If government Can you trust me? I ask people that all
going to be hard work, but anyone who
officials and agencies establish the time. They always say yes. I’m sure
does it will testify to its effectiveness.
collaborative relationships with they’re sincere. But I follow up with
watchdog groups and respond readily Perhaps the most perplexing aspect of this question: if you can really trust
to requests for information, problems transparent government is the total me, then why do we need to hold an
can usually be quickly avoided. After lack of reward. People expect that election every two years? ■
all, people just want honest answers their officials are doing the right thing
to their questions. and are behaving transparently, and Matt Dunlap is Secretary of State for the
thus offer no acknowledgement of State of Maine and Chairman of the National
Attaining such answers is now
best practices or for good behavior. In Electronic-Commerce Coordinating Council.
available in more vectors than at any
a way, it’s not transparency at all
time in history. With blogs, online
people want; it’s assurance.
chatrooms, wikis, and electronic
Assurance that someone is manning
forums, policymakers and the public

Transparency in a limit, however, to the sort of

technology and policy innovation that
government can produce. Regulations
Government Begins Outside that sometimes hold government back
don’t apply in the same way to non-
profits, educational institutions, and
By John Wonderlich businesses, who are learning to
Program Director
Sunlight Foundation
catalyze government innovation from
I am the Policy Director for just such
an organization.The Sunlight
ne of President Obama’s first As government employees craft and

O official acts in office was to

issue sweeping new
information policies. His directives,
then follow the new technology and
information policies of the Obama
administration, the examples set by
Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based
nonprofit, was founded in 2006 with
transparency in government as its
central mission. As technology’s
which single out transparency, partici- experiments in data and engagement transformative potential has always
pation, and collaboration, have the will be among the government been at the heart of our vision for an
potential to generate a new era of innovators’ best new guides. open government, our foundation
networked governance, where digital invests heavily in the technology of
To be sure, significant coordination and
tools empower citizens and public understanding, building tools
guidance already come from
government employees to more fully that help citizens and government
government agencies and organiza-
participate in democratic processes. employees alike comprehend and
tions, from top-level authorities to the
These directives, however, if insider-champions working for interact with government.
implemented improperly, may be just technological reform. Government’s Much of our work has been created
as likely to create new turf battles, coordinative role should only continue with an appreciation for the money and
unwieldy mandates, uncertainty, or to grow as the new administration’s influence at the heart of our political
unnecessary layers of bureaucracy. commitment becomes explicit.There’s system. Sunlight provides significant
Continued on next page...

support for the Center for Responsive passage of the Federal Funding Each of these projects affects not only
Politics, whose Accountability andTransparency Act the users who employ them, but also
website provides an unparalleled view (often referred to in a recent political the government employees who were
of money in politics. Designing with campaign as Coburn-Obama).That the original stewards of the data.This
open access and data architecture in legislation created, feedback loop is essential to the role
mind, many sites like made in the precise image of that outside actors have in helping
now feature APIs, or Application Even government live up to its digital
Programming Interfaces, which allow’s carefully crafted potential: while federal information
other sites to repurpose the underlying API carried over to the federal site, a policy can be hard to affect from the
data. In this way, for example, the clear example of the federal outside, the individuals who are most
Center’s campaign finance data (a government following the example of a intimately familiar with any system are
cleaned-up version of Federal Election non-government organization. often the biggest champions for its
Commission data) has been integrated reform. In this way, just as Sunlight’s
Legislative information is being
into other sites, like Congresspedia or work has set a powerful standard for
similarly reprocessed from outside how government should approach its
Congress. Legislative documents
technology, we also hope to empower
Congresspedia is a citizen's wiki on follow a complex path to most citizens’
the mechanics of digital democracy:
Congress, featuring comprehensive computer screens. After being drafted,
new-media staffers, Webmasters,
details on all things congressional, and they go to closed congressional
CIOs, systems administrators, and
now featuring campaign finance data databases, then the Library of
even the occasional member of
generated from the Center’s Congress to be posted publicly, and
Congress or agency head.
databases. In a similar reuse of data, then to, the primary public combines campaign hub for legislative data. The better America’s visions of
contributions with vote tallies, was created by its sole proprietor, accountability, transparency, and
uncovering suggestive patterns, where University of Pennsylvania student interactivity are connected to the
spikes in political giving often precede JoshTauberer, to produce more user- policy-makers, journalists, and the
important legislation by only a few friendly legislative information. Many democracy practitioners, the better
days. other sites, including Obama’s vision of openness can be, reuse GovTrack’s realized. ■
The impact of nonprofit innovation can
data to present a fuller view of
be seen even more clearly through the
Congress., another John Wonderlich is the Program Director for
example of With
Sunlight grantee, has created a rich the Sunlight Foundation, a D.C. based non-
support from a Sunlight grant, OMB
social layer on top of congressional partisan, non-profit transparency advocacy
Watch created the organization. For additional information,
information, allowing users to track,
website, offering searchable access to contact or at
share, and comment on bills online,
all federal grants and contracts.The 202/742-1520.
adding rich explanatory content to the
example set by OMB Watch was so
usually inscrutable information.
strong that it helped lead to the

The Collaborative Government

Beyond Transparency in Government

By Jennifer L. Dorn
President and CEO
National Academy of Public Administration

s Supreme Court Justice collaboration that we have never seen participatory, and collaborative.” And

A Potter Stewart said of

pornography, most of us know
government transparency when we
before. Traditionally, government
agencies have operated in silos –
separated not only from citizens, but
now, the real work begins.

A Good Start
see it: timely, accurate, and reliable from each other, as well.
information made available to the Nevertheless, some have begun to Hitting the President’s trifecta of
public. And we understand why reach across and outside of good government may be easier said
transparency is important: it is the government to access the collective than done – but it won’t be because
basis for accountability and guards brainpower of organizations, technology is standing in the way.
against the three bureaucratic evils of stakeholders and individuals. A little more than a year ago, the
waste, fraud and abuse. National Academy of Public
On his first full day in office,
Increasingly, however, government President Obama put government on Administration launched the
leaders recognize that solving the notice that this new, more Collaboration Project. This
complex problems facing America collaborative model can no longer be independent consortium of
today will require more than simply confined to the efforts of early government leaders comes together
keeping citizens informed. Meeting adopters. He called upon every on-line (
challenges like rising health care executive department and agency to and in-person to share ideas,
costs, climate change and energy “harness new technology” and make examples and insights about
independence will require a level of government “transparent, leveraging web 2.0 and collaborative
Continued on next page...

technology to solve government's What’s Stopping Us Now? media, where documents evolve
complex problems. collaboratively online. How many
There are two fundamental versions of a single page of a
In addition, as part of the challenges that stand in the path of government wiki must be preserved
Collaboration Project, the National rapid progress toward collaborative for potential FOIA disclosure?
Academy has collected, posted and government: culture and policy. Similarly, when and how must instant
begun to analyze more than 50
The President’s call for a new era of message (IM) exchanges be
examples of innovative uses of
transparency and collaboration will, preserved and be subject to FOIA or
collaborative technology in federal,
without question, begin to break down other record-keeping and disclosure
state and local government. These
the cultural barriers inside requirements? It has been reported
case studies range from powerful
government that have impeded that the Obama White House has
mashups of satellite imagery and
progress. As desirable as it may barred the use of IM, because
government databases, to relatively
sound, our expectation that attorneys believe the Presidential
simple forays on popular social
government agencies should act as Records Act would apply, requiring
networking sites.
stewards over the use and preservation and public disclosure
The Alabama Department of dissemination of the data they collect five years after the president leaves
Homeland Security, for example, often stands in the way of office.
convinced local government and non- transparency and collaboration. Another layer of complexity is added
governmental stakeholders
Changing this “ownership and when government agencies, like the
throughout the state to overlay data
control” culture in government will not Library of Congress, want to create a
that they “owned” on a
be a small task, especially as we presence on free third party sites like
comprehensive online database of
reaffirm our commitment to Flickr, YouTube and Second Life. Can
satellite imagery. The resulting
accountability. Government agencies federal agencies simply sign up, or is
application, known as Virtual
must provide information in a format this transaction subject to federal
Alabama, is a visualization tool that
that allows people to engage with procurement regulations? Can they
uses an enterprise version of Google
data, make their own discoveries, and “click the box” and agree to terms and
Earth, customized to show the state’s
tell others what they have learned. conditions that bind them to state law,
most critical data overlaid on maps.
“Transparency” can no longer mean despite the Supremacy Clause in the
With the click of a mouse, first
simply publishing information in a U.S. Constitution?
responders and emergency response
planners can use Virtual Alabama to static format. Key to making progress,
view three-dimensional models of however, will be a common The Promise of
schools, bridges and critical understanding of when and what data Generational Change
infrastructure, overlaid on satellite must be protected by government, and
what data should be considered a Having entered government in the
imagery and showing the locations of wake of Watergate, my generation of
fire hydrants, gas pipelines, national asset, free to be mined by
anyone for any reason. public servants strongly believed and
hazardous chemicals, and other still believes that government should
critical information. A related but potentially more work for the people. But we didn’t
At the other end of the spectrum, the daunting obstacle is the vast number really understand that we also needed
U.S. Library of Congress has tapped of laws and official policies that to work with the people.
into the “wisdom of the crowd” restrict government’s ability to take
full advantage of new technologies Today, government is quickly
through a publicly available photo- transitioning to a new generation of
sharing website, posting thousands of and opportunities for collaboration.
Working with Collaboration Project managers and leaders, for whom
photos and inviting the public to online collaboration is not a new
provide information, tags and members, Fellows and staff of the
National Academy have begun to frontier but a fact of everyday life. We
descriptions. While extending the owe it to them—and the citizens we
reach of its collection to millions document the myriad official
“obstacles” that stand in the way. To serve—to recognize and embrace
across the nation and around the transparency, participation and
globe, the Library has also been able be fair, most were enacted or adopted
long before the era of web 2.0 and collaboration as essential to good
to significantly enrich its photo government in the 21st Century. ■
collection without undertaking costly could not anticipate its potential use
and time-consuming staff research. It in the work of government. They are,
now loads an additional 50 photos nonetheless, real and numerous. Jennifer Dorn is President and CEO of the
National Academy of Public
each Friday and averages about half a For example, the Freedom of Administration. For additional information
million views each month. Information Act (FOIA) did not contact
anticipate the emergence of iterative

Get Ready for Wiki-Government
By Morley Winograd and Michael D. Hais

resident Barack Obama’s fundamentally reshape how on how best to “reinvent government”

P remarkable showing among

millennials (voters 18-26 years
old), who supported him by a more
government policy is made and how it
is administered. Millennials constantly
interact with each other using social
to a debate on how to invent new ways
of exercising our democratic
governance ideals.
than 2:1 margin, was a direct byproduct networks. They tend to make decisions
Given millennials’ values and
of his groundbreaking effort to utilize based on consensus, with leadership
behaviors and the technologies they
online communication tools to focused on forming and shaping that
love, the thrust of efforts by the Obama
mobilize those core supporters. Now consensus. Since they have learned to
administration to reshape governance
the Obama administration has an search for the answer to every
in the United States will involve the
opportunity to utilize similarly question on the Internet, they tend not
creation of open structures attempting
sophisticated Web 2.0 technologies to to believe in the authority of a few elite
to maximize the number who
make America’s governing processes experts. Instead, they place their faith
participate in policy-making.
more transparent, thereby increasing in the wisdom that comes from the
Dispersed participatory structures,
the trust of all generations in the combined opinions of all their friends,
such as Google or Wikipedia, are
federal government. or, by extension, the members of a
brands millennials think of when asked
network. These characteristics of
The beliefs and behaviors of the to name information sources they
America’s newest “civic” generation
millennial generation will trust. It is from these models that
will shift the debate of the last decade
Continued on next page...

millennials will draw their inspiration legislator Steve Urquhart as a place Despite its “bleeding edge” character,
for reshaping America’s governing “where Utahans could debate issues was warmly received
processes. coming before the legislature.” It was by the legislature. “It moved the
used to influence the policy decisions needle…it helped improve the
While Wikipedia’s open structure,
in that state’s 2007 legislative session. dialogue. I think that’s what a lot of us
complete transparency and user
Technologically, Politicopia operated are yearning for in politics these days,”
participation has made it a favorite
in a very “millennialist” manner, being is how founder Urquhart summed up
site for millennials, many more
“based on a user-controlled wiki the experience. His legislative
traditional opinion-makers abhor the
system that allows anyone to join the colleague, Steve Sandstrom, agreed. “I
notion of “decision-making by crowds”
discussion. Unlike activist groups such think we’re on the verge of something
that the site represents. But the rapid
as, it does not push an new…it was intelligent, thoughtful and
evolution of online politics engineered
agenda other than open discussion.” produced a consensus. It was pretty
by the Obama campaign provides an
neat.” The result put Utah “at the
inherent antidote to the problem of Andrew Rasiej, founder of the
vanguard of the future of American
unfettered aggregation and lowest- Personal Democracy Forum and a
politics in the twenty-first century,”
common-denominator outcomes strong advocate for more openness in

While Wikipedia’s open structure, complete transparency

and user participation has made it a favorite site for
Millennials, many more traditional opinion-makers
abhor the notion of “decision-making by crowds” that the
site represents.
mentioned by many critics of government, points out an important
according to Rasiej, “where town halls,
Wikipedia. As one of the more famous difference between chat rooms and
policy debates and civic involvement
critics, Jaron Lanier, who coined the political wikis. “Politicopia is more of a
will happen on wikis, blogs, video-
term “virtual reality” in the 1980s, said, repository of ideas and discussions
sharing and social networking sites.”
“The ecology of social media is where issues can be debated and
Given the technological sophistication
balanced by the presence of other information can be added over time.”
of the Obama administration and its
applications such as blogs and social Voters leave behind “both a record and
desire to inject a greater degree of
networking where individuality and an aggregation of voices to define an
innovation in the government’s
cooperation are alive and well.... By issue.” Urquhart underlined the key to
fundamental processes, the spread of
using a mix of social media, the site’s success: “It only works if it’s
wiki-government from this state
communities can benefit both from the a broad pool of people, not just techies
legislative pilot to the federal
wisdom of crowds and the wisdom of or one party or another.... It has to be
executive branch is inevitable.
individuals.” By celebrating the use of bottom up. The people have to have the
blogs and social networks in his tools and ability to set the agenda.” Having become engaged in
administration as much as he did in unprecedented numbers in his
The political impact of the site did not
the campaign, President Obama can election, Americans, especially
break down along traditional
ensure the success of a wiki- millennials, want to continue to
conservative/liberal lines. The online
government approach to governance. participate in President Obama’s
debate moved the chamber in a
administration. Wiki-government is the
The first steps in the use of technology conservative direction when it
perfect vehicle to satisfy that desire. ■
to enable increased citizen convinced several key legislators to
involvement in policy-making, while vote for the adoption of a school
preserving the constitutional role of voucher program that passed by only Morley Winograd and Michael D. Hais are
representative legislative bodies, were one vote. But it also pushed the co-authors of Millennial Makeover:
MySpace, YouTube, and the Future of
taken in the conservative, but tech- legislature toward a liberal decision by American Politics. Winograd was Director
savvy, state of Utah almost two years rejecting a proposal to have Utah of the National Partnership for Reinventing
ago., a “virtual town directly challenge the Roe v. Wade Government from 1997-2001.
square” was founded by Utah state abortion ruling.

Building the Digital Public Square
By Vivek Kundra
United States Chief Information Officer

n ancient Athens—the model for technological advances now allow data on every aspect of government

I the democracy envisioned by the

framers of our Constitution --
citizens met, face to face, in the
people from around the world
unfettered access to their
government. Through these advances,
operations, from government
contracts to crime statistics to
economic development. We have
agora—the public square—to conduct constituents can hold their organized these data into convenient
business, debate civic issues, and government accountable from the catalogs and live data feeds and
drive the decisions of government. privacy of their own homes. The made them available to the general
Gone are the days of daily meetings District of Columbia is bringing public at
at the agora. Today, citizens know people closer to government through Visitors to the site can find
government as red tape, long lines, collaborative technologies like wikis, information on crime incidents by
and cold, distant bureaucracies. The data feeds, videos and dashboards. date, time of day, ward, block, or
reins of government have slipped We’re throwing open D.C.’s method; details on construction
from “we the people” to inaccessible warehouse of public data so that projects by location, type of
government officials. everyone—constituents, construction, budget, completion date
policymakers, and businesses—can or status; data on registered vacant
The District of Columbia, however, is
meet in a new digital public square. properties by ward, address, owner or
at the forefront of a new era of
tax assessment; or information on
governance, one in which The District maintains vast stores of
Continued on next page...

businesses, such as the locations of requests, community meetings, and Facebook alone, founded just four
District establishments that hold more. A private entrepreneur has years ago, now has over 60 million
liquor licenses. Mapping technology assembled law enforcement data from active users, and YouTube, a year
also allows users to view data the District and across the country younger, hosted 3 billion video views
geographically with a single click. into an online database, called in a single month this year. We
Using an ordinary Web browser, “CrimeReports.” Visitors can get responded to these new
anyone in the world can access this crime data and maps by address, zip communications trends by expanding
information. code, and type of crime and sign up D.C. Government’s presence on
for personalized crime alerts. Facebook and posting job listings and
When we first opened the doors to
bid solicitations on YouTube under the
government data, people were quick These are truly grassroots ventures.
“D.C. Government” channel.
to respond. Individuals and The democratization of government
Leveraging consumer technology in
organizations are not only viewing our data has revealed an enormous
this way allows us to reach wider
government data, but are actually appetite for civic participation. We are
audiences at no cost to taxpayers.
improving upon our work by analyzing ushering in a new age of participatory

The digital public square is now at the heart of our efforts to

make government services more effective, accessible, and
transparent. By ensuring that every citizen has a front row
seat in the digital public square, we’ll continue to return
government into the hands of “we, the people.”
and repurposing the information in democracy, one in which citizens are Until now, government has largely
useful ways. One innovative D.C. in the driver’s seat when they interact been absent in the trend towards
resident took it upon herself to gather with government. Accessibility has worldwide exchange of information
publicly-available government data on never been greater, and this is just the and services. Starting here in the
service requests, crimes, and building beginning. In the past year, the District, we hope to demonstrate that
and public space permits to create a District of Columbia published over government, too, can and must step
Web-based informational 200 data feeds. During the coming fully into the digital arena. That is why
clearinghouse site that informs year, we expect to double that. the digital public square is now at the
southeastern D.C. residents about heart of our efforts to make
Today, building the digital public
local real estate development and the government services more effective,
square is not just appealing, it is
quality of government services. With a accessible, and transparent. By
imperative for every government,
$1.1 million grant from the Knight ensuring that every citizen has a front
whether municipal, state, or national.
Foundation, a group of veteran Web row seat in the digital public square,
We live in the information age. Nearly
journalists has transformed local we’ll continue to return government
1.5 billion people have access to the
government data into an online into the hands of “we, the people.” ■
Internet—and they are using it in
community news forum at
every way. There is a worldwide digital for the District and Vivek Kundra is the former Chief
market for goods and services. For
for 10 other U.S. cities. Here, visitors Technology Officer for the District of
example,, founded just
can plug in their zip code and find and Columbia. He has been appointed the
over a decade ago, now handles about nation’s first Chief Information Officer. For
exchange information about
56 million transactions a year, and additional information contact
everything of interest in their
Ebay, founded at about the same time,
neighborhoods—local businesses and
now has over 275 million registered
reviews, real estate listings, crimes,
users. There is a growing number of
road construction, city service
global social and artistic networks.

Open Government Serves Citizens
By Maryantonett Flumian
Ottawa University

he confluence of technology, outcomes. Information fuels is to use Web 2.0’s tools to answer

T demographic, social and

economic forces is about to
force huge change in the way
collaboration on the way to achieving a
The “citizen-collaborator” becomes an
more creatively the question of “who
does what”. Public services no longer
need to be provided by government
government does business. The new alone; any combination of public
active consumer or “prosumer” of
function-rich infrastructure of Web 2.0, agencies, the private sector, a
policy, programs and service,
the emergence of social media and the community group, or citizens can
identifying needs and helping to shape
desire for greater participation on the provide them, using the Web to
their fulfillment. The technology and
part of citizens is fundamentally collaborate, innovate and engage.
tools become a means of finding better
redesigning how government operates,
ways to integrate and balance the What follows are a few ideas for
what public services are provided and
individual’s preferences with his or her getting started on the journey towards
by whom, and how governments
community’s needs and resources. open government.
interact and engage their citizens.
Prosumerism dramatically improves
Unleash data. A growing chorus of
Traditionally, governments design the responsiveness of public systems
observers (both inside and outside
services and roll them out to citizens and keeps everyone involved--from
government) believe government’s first
who are expected to comply with the officials, to stakeholders to citizens--

Public services no longer need to be provided by government

alone; any combination of public agencies, the private sector,
a community group, or citizens can provide them, using the
Web to collaborate, innovate and engage.
terms and conditions of policy and focused on setting and achieving
priority in a Web 2.0 world should be to
programs. Typically, the service is the goals together.
make its data available on the Net in
same for everyone. It is always linear.
This model is highly collaborative and ways that are open, standards-
Outputs are the metrics for the model:
demonstrates the changing role of compliant, and re-usable by third
how many cheques got in the mail, how
government and the changing parties--whether they’re individual
many people got back to work, how
responsibilities of citizens. It also citizens or commercial or non-profit
many calls got answered. Compliance
understands that collaborative organizations. The assumption is that
with the design’s rules and regulations
partnerships can include members third parties, less constrained by rigid
is paramount, especially in
outside of governmental boundaries. internal bureaucracies and strict
transactional services.
Organizational structure continues to accountabilities, will innovate around
The new model is not a mass- exist but barely matters in the the data far more quickly and freely
production machine. Instead, in a more achievement of outcomes. All the than government can. Both
holistic fashion, policy and service are necessary information, talent, and government and non-government
directly connected to outcomes. knowledge are simply there, with a few entities stand to benefit as a
Enabled by powerful information keywords and a click on “search”. combination of Web 2.0 technologies
systems and ongoing interactions that (including XML, RSS feeds, and data
While Government 2.0 is still in its
help build a profound understanding of visualization tools) makes government
infancy, and while there are still
needs, providers and users collaborate data available in attractive, bold
concrete innovations to draw on, a
in creating services together. They use graphic forms that anyone can
number of Web 2.0 concepts
the “information ecosystem” created understand and debate. Agencies can
popularized in other sectors can help
by Web 2.0 technologies to re-calibrate employ these technologies internally,
form a hypothesis on how they might
the relationship between providers to improve interagency cooperation,
work. Perhaps the greatest opportunity
and users and the evidence of reduce redundant activities, identify
Continued on next page...

potential synergies between programs, ( looks and that governments are keeping pace
empower larger portions of their feels a lot like, the popular with innovative uses of technology. The
workforces, and reduce operating technology news aggregator. Users official tourism foundation of Tuscany,
costs. Having learned how to alter post suggestions and the community is one of the first public-sector
policy-making and evaluation votes; the most popular ideas rise to organizations to exploit Second Life as
processes based on these new the top. The user-driven idea-filtering a medium for tourism-related
sources of information and insight, process eases the burden on company marketing and services. Its Toscana
they can then invite the public to use resources by harnessing “the crowd” Island lets Second Life visitors tour
the tools, with comparable benefits. to sift through mountains of feedback. the Tower of Pisa, the Ponte Vecchio
“Emergent behavior” can lead to new Less than a week after IdeaStorm’s and the Duomo in Florence, with audio
insights, innovations and strategies launch, users had contributed over commentary available. At the U.S.
that even the smartest individuals 1,300 ideas that were voted on more Centers for Disease Control and
couldn’t produce in isolation. than 120,000 times. Dell has already Prevention Island, users can watch
translated many of the ideas videos and pod.c.asts and use a slate
Embrace open standards and Web
contributed by Dell customers into of interactive and innovative tools to
services. Leading governments are
product and service innovations. review educational information. The
emulating their private sector
U.S. National Library of Medicine has
counterparts and embracing the new Leverage new channels for
established Health Info Island with a
standards, capabilities and feedback. New Web-based tools that
medical library and virtual hospital
architectures of Web services. Most improve the ability of organizations to
facility. It will eventually offer training,
important, there’s a change in mindset gather and analyze feedback from their
outreach, consumer health resources
from thinking about enterprise customers are emerging to support
and one-on-one support on Second
applications only, to building an continuous innovation and
Life to bring public health information
Enterprise Service Architecture (ESA) improvement. In many cases, third
and interventions to consumers where,
founded on Web services, the new parties in the non-profit sector are
when and how they need them.
paradigm in software. Here, a single running excellent customer feedback
service platform enables and drives all sites, suggesting that in some cases Reaching the next frontier of service
applications so that internal or governments could readily tap into means opening up government
external users can access important existing online communities rather officials, stakeholders and citizens to
services regardless of channel. Web than build their own. Initiatives such collaboration. Technology and tools
services and an ESA reduce as in the U.K. enable productive dialogue. The array
integration costs and dramatically enable residents to submit concerns of tools--from blogs, to social
speed application development, about safety, vandalism or other local networks, to wikis and beyond--will
creating much more open, powerful issues directly to their municipal continue to evolve in their
and adaptable IT environments. With council. The site features a tracking sophistication and application. They
an Enterprise Service Architecture, mechanism that indicates whether provide platforms for the collaboration
governments have Net-based, local concerns (such as a pothole- that reshapes government and helps to
standards-oriented, flexible software riddled road) have been addressed by open it up to its citizens.
environments that can encompass the relevant authorities. Using the site,
The single biggest driver towards
information in structured and British residents play a more active
these horizons is leadership. As we’ve
unstructured form, as well as in role in increasing public welfare, while
seen, political leadership and
multivendor systems. This, in turn, helping local government officials
executive leadership are critical. And
provides the foundation for delivering identify issues in their jurisdiction. In
citizens are pushing us all. ■
high-quality services--such as the health care arena, the independent
education, health, and security--as an UK-based
integrated ecosystem of providers allows patients to rate different Maryantonett Flumian was the first head of
(perhaps blending public and private hospitals and provide feedback on Service Canada, the Canadian
Government’s agency for providing secure,
services), not as a collection of their experiences. one-stop, personalized services to citizens.
hundreds of departments with Maryantonett Flumian is an Associate
Open a virtual service desk.The
incompatible systems. Professor at the University of Ottawa
number of citizens participating in
Graduate School in Public and International
Create an Ideastorm. Governments virtual worlds such as Second Life Affairs. For additional information
can harness the power of presumption may be low, but it is not too early to contact
by asking customers how to improve experiment with virtual service desks
service quality. Dell Computer’s in the medium. A number of agencies
IdeaStorm provides a useful template have already done so, citing the
for government agencies. Launched in relatively low costs, the ability to reach
2007, IdeaStorm young people and the desire to prove

U.S. General Services Administration
Office of Citizen Services and
Intergovernmental Solutions Division
Official Business
Penalty for Private Use, $300